Drake men’s basketball comfortably defeats Missouri State
Now that conference play has started, the men’s basketball team at Drake has been getting fired up to work towards a repeat of their success in the 2022-2023 season. With a strong game out of the gates against Valparaiso on Nov. 29, the Bulldogs looked to go two for two in conference play on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. against the Missouri State Bears.
“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s a step up from out-of-conference play with just the energy and enthusiasm of both teams but just doing basketball and doing what we have to do to win the game,” guard Kevin Overton said.
Knowing that the one loss the Bulldogs have suffered in conference play over the past two seasons was against Missouri State, Drake knew this game was even more important. This game was high stakes for both teams, which was evident by the constant energy and communication on and off the court.
Both teams started slow, but fortunately for Drake, Missouri State never really seemed to wake up on the court. Both also faced some early struggles to find the basket, but that didn’t stop either team from taking every shot opportunity they could create. At the end of the first half, the score was 36-25 in favor of Drake, and it would soon prove to stay that way in the second half.
Even though the Bulldogs struggled to put away shots in the first half, their defense proved to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the game that made all the difference.
“I am not concerned about anyone on our team missing shots,” forward Tucker DeVries said. “Obviously, we want them to go in, but sometimes [that’s] basketball, and I know Kevin Overton, myself and the other guys can really shoot the ball. I think as the season goes on the numbers missed will start to balance itself out, and I think if we work together with the defense we brought tonight, I think you are going to see an even better team.”
Even though the first half went well, the Bulldogs would have to keep up their defense to prevent a comeback. The crowd seemed to get louder with every basket made as Drake pulled further and further away from the Bears. Their chemistry on the court was unmatched, and with a final score of 74-57, it was clear that the Bulldogs ruled the court.
“We came out with a lot of enthusiasm and [were] ready to play, and we ended up executing the game plan to perfection,” DeVries said. “The theme throughout the year has been just trying to get better defensively and things are starting to click. I think chemistry, people see it and realize it on offense, but I don’t think they realize how key chemistry is on defense. Building that chemistry with ten new guys, and as time goes on, I think we will get better and better to put pieces together defensively, and tonight I think we saw a good glimpse of that.”
This game was truly a display of hard work and communication on the court, and when looking at their point and rebound totals in this game, it is easy to see how the Bulldogs broke away. DeVries came out on top with 24 points, five rebounds and three steals while forward Darnell Brodie followed right behind with 12 points and nine rebounds. Conor Enright also had a great game for Drake with eight points, six rebounds and five steals. In that similar mix as well was Overton and guard Kyron Gibson, who both had standout games both offensively and defensively.
Now that the men have a second strong conference win under their belt, the pressure to keep defense and offense in line will be high. The Bulldogs’ next game is on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7:00 p.m. against the Saint Louis Billikens, where the team will be working to repeat the highs of this game and secure another home win in the Knapp Center.