Drake’s comeback denied by Redbirds in league play

NORMAL, Ill. – The Bulldogs rallied but couldn’t get over the hump Friday in a 80-71 loss to Illinois State.

The Drake women’s basketball team trailed by 17 with less than six minutes to play before cutting the deficit to six on four occasions. Each time the Redbirds (2-9, 1-0) had an answer to hang on in the Missouri Valley Conference opener.

Kyndal Clark paced the Bulldogs (6-6, 0-1) with a game-high 23 points, while Ashley Bartow and Lizzy Wendell each poured in 13. Wendell pulled down a game-best seven boards, though Drake committed 22 turnovers, which led to 28 Redbird points.

Wendell’s layup brought the Bulldogs within 75-69 with 16 seconds left before Illinois State made three out of four at the line to seal the win.

“They came out punching and we didn’t recover,” said Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk.

“We made a couple runs late in the second half and late in the first half, and we needed to make sure we did that at the beginning of the first half and start of the second half.”

Alexis Foley led a quartet of double-digit scorers for Illinois State with 20 points. Octavia Lump had 17, while Lindsay Smith and Stekara Hall each added 14. The Redbirds shot 27-of-35 from the line to snap their six-game losing streak as Illinois State’s bench outscored Drake’s 32-0.

The Bulldogs continue their road trip against Indiana State on Sunday.