ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The Drake Bulldogs trumped the Evansville Purple Aces 52-48 on Thursday night in the opening round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Charles, Mo.
Drake (16-14) will now play second-seeded Illinois State (18-11) in the quarterfinals on Friday night at 6:05 p.m. at Family Arena.
The Bulldogs were swept this season by the Redbirds but both games were close and Drake held multiple leads in both games with game in the Normal being decided in overtime.
Senior Rachael Hackbarth was the top scorer for Drake with 15 points and senior Amber Wollschlager added 14 points tonight. Hackbarth saw her consecutive double-double streak of 15 games come to an end as she finished with nine rebounds. Hackbarth was presented the 2012 Jackie Stiles Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award on Thursday night prior to the game.
Evansville (5-25) was led in scoring by Taylor Ware who had 13 points and Samantha Heck added 10 points. Heck pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Evansville carried a slight edge on the boards, 34-30.
The outcome of the game came down to the end. After a Ware free throw tied the game at 46-46, Hackbarth made a layup to take a 48-46 lead and on the next Evansville’s procession took a key charge to get the ball back. Kyndal Clark lost the ball out of bounds to give the ball back to the Purple Aces but Meagan Collins missed a jumper and Clark pulled down the rebound to get the ball back in Drake’s hands with 31 seconds left.
After a timeout by the Bulldogs, Wollschlager took a kick out pass by Hackbarth and buried a three from the right corner to extend the lead to 51-46. Waukee native Stacie Gillium knocked down a jump shot with 10 seconds left to cut the deficit to 51-48 but Clark knocked down one free throw and the Bulldogs tracked down her miss on the second attempt to run the clock out and preserve the win.
The two teams traded baskets early in the game and Drake led 11-10 going into the second media timeout at the 9:49 mark. Wollschlager led Drake with four points.
Drake trailed at halftime, 29-25 as Evansville shot 45 percent from the field and the Aces were led in scoring by Heck with ten points. Hackbarth led Drake with nine points, including her second career three-pointer and rebounds.
The Bulldogs came out fast in the second half with a 11-0 run to go in front 36-29. Drake held Evansville scoreless for almost five and a half minutes to begin the half.