Wendell’s game-winner lifts Drake over Salukis

DES MOINES – Lizzy Wendell hit the game-winning jumper with 2 seconds left and the Drake women’s basketball team rallied for a 74-72 triumph over Southern Illinois Friday in Missouri Valley Conference play at the Knapp Center.

Ashley Bartow registered a career-best 28 points and the Bulldogs (7-7, 1-2) overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to snap a two-game skid.

The Salukis (3-11, 1-2) led 34-26 at intermission and stretched the margin to 51-39 early in the second half. The Bulldogs used a 21-4 run to take the lead briefly as Caitlin Ingle’s layup gave Drake a 60-55 advantage with just more than 8 minutes left.

The teams traded the lead five times in the final five minutes as Mercedes Griffin’s steal and layup secured a 72-70 edge for the Salukis with 46 seconds remaining. Ingle tied the game 14 seconds later with a layup before Wendell retrieved a missed bucket by Kyndal Clark and fired the winning shot. Clark stole the ball from the Salukis on each of their final two possessions to set up the win.

Bartow shot 12-of-17 from the field before fouling out in the final minute. Wendell finished with 14 points and six rebounds, while Ingle scored 12. Clark contributed seven points, six boards, four steals and a pair of assists and Carly Grenfell scored eight.

Griffin led Southern Illinois with 16 points, while Azia Washington and Sidney Goins scored 12 apiece. Washington and Goins – the Salukis’ top two scorers – were limited by foul trouble and each played seven minutes or less in the first half before combining for 18 points in the second.

The Bulldogs host Evansville Sunday at 2:05 p.m.