Evansville’s late run dispatches Drake

DES MOINES – The Drake women’s basketball team did not have a great shooting performance on Saturday during its final home game of the season.

But, Evansville could not pull away from the Bulldogs until the final five minutes of the game, using a 7-0 to create separation in a 70-59 loss to the Purple Aces at the Knapp Center.

“Up until today, we have been playing some of our best basketball,” Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “We have really controlled the tempo and gotten up and down the the floor well. Today, we struggled with our shooting in the second half, and I think part of that was Evansville and part of that was us.”

Junior Morgan Reid continued her strong play for the Bulldogs, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Mary Pat Specht and Ashley Bartow each had 11 for Drake.

“She has continued to improve this year,” Baranczyk said of Reid. “I wish we could have done a better job of following her today because she brought great effort and energy.”

The Bulldogs shot just 36 percent from the floor and were 6-of-25 from long range. Sharpshooting junior Kyndal Clark, the team’s leading scorer, had just five points on 1-of-8 shooting from long range.

Drake did not score for two and a half minutes during Evansville’s 7-0 run late in the game. Drake made 46 percent of its shots in the first half but connected on just 27 percent in the deciding second half.

Evansville got big games from its frontcourt. Meagan Collins had 20 points and Samantha Heck added 19 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Ware had 10 points and Chelsea Falkenstein also added nine points and 11 rebounds.

Drake got back-to-back 3-pointers from Specht that broke a four-minute drought in the first half. The Bulldogs outscored the Purple Aces by six in the final five minutes and trailed by just two at the break.

“Today, we didn’t have it, but we will have tomorrow off and rest up and get right back at it Monday at practice getting ready for Thursday’s game,” Baranczyk said.

The ninth-seeded Bulldogs will begin Missouri Valley Conference Tournament play on Thursday against eighth-seeded Missouri State. Tip-off is set for 4:05 p.m. and the winner will face top-seeded Creighton at 12:05 p.m. Friday.