The Drake Bulldogs suffered a 63-56 loss to the Miami Hurricanes on Friday, March 17 in their first March Madness game since 2021.
The 12th-seeded Bulldogs took on the five-seeded Hurricanes in Albany, New York, in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Bulldogs starting lineup had graduate student D.J. Wilkins at guard, sophomore Tucker DeVries at guard, graduate student Garrett Sturtz at guard, graduate student Roman Penn at guard and senior Darnell Brodie at forward.
Drake finished the first half up 30-25, and carried some momentum into the second half, leading Miami 55-47 at one point. However, the team soon faltered in the second half, which included a scoring drought with one point in a five-minute stretch, while also allowing 38 points to Miami, eventually losing 63-56.
Drake’s leading scorer was Brodie, setting a season-high with 20 points and coming one short of his career best of 21 points in a game. Brodie also turned in nine rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes played.
Penn also turned in 11 points, as well as six rebounds and seven assists in 34 minutes played.Wilkins turned in six points as well, hitting two 3-point field goals to go along with one rebound and one assist in 34 minutes played.
In his first-ever NCAA Tournament, Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year DeVries turned in only three points with eight rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes played. Senior Garrett Sturtz went one-for-one in field goal attempts, turning in two points and one rebound in 19 minutes played.
The Bulldogs also had some firepower off the bench, with senior Sardaar Calhoun going four-for-five from 3-point line, sinking four 3-point field goals and finishing the game with 12 points, six rebounds and one assist in 27 minutes played.
This was the Bulldogs’ first game in March Madness since 2021, when they lost to the University of Southern California Trojans 72-56. Before that, they had previously beaten the Wichita State Shockers 53-52 in the First Four, giving Drake their first Tournament win since 1971.
Despite the loss to Miami, the 2022-23 season was a successful season for the Drake Bulldogs, going 24-7 during the regular season and going 15-5 during conference play. Drake finished in second place in the MVC but were able to secure a spot in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by winning the MVC Tournament, earning themselves an automatic bid to March Madness.
The Bulldogs also finished with a number of players winning awards for the 2022-23 season. DeVries won the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year, becoming the first Drake student-athlete to win the award since 2008. Penn was named to the All-MVC First Team, while Sturtz was named to the All-MVC Third Team, and redshirt freshman Conor Enright was named to the MVC All-Freshman team.
Other awards for the Bulldogs include Brodie being selected to the MVC Most Improved Team, Calhoun being selected to MVC All-Bench Team and freshman Connor Enright earning Scholar-Athlete Team Honorable Mention.
The Bulldogs are looking towards the 2023-24 season to build on the success they had this year.