Clarke’s Career Night Leads Drake Over Bradley In OT, 92-84
DES MOINES, Iowa – Senior Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) scored a career-high 20 points with 15 rebounds as the Drake men’s basketball stormed to a 92-84 come-from-behind victory over Bradley in overtime Wednesday night at the Knapp Center.
With the Bulldogs trailing, 70-68, redshirt-junior Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) was fouled with 1.2 seconds to play in the second half. After a bounce off the back rim, his first free throw dropped in and the second was true the entire way to send the game to overtime at 70 points apiece.
Clarke had seven of his 20 points in the overtime before fouling out to help seal the victory. He made a season-high 10 of the 12 free throws he attempted, including five in the extra period. Five Bulldogs scored in double-figures while Will Egolf led Bradley with 21 points on the night.
“He’s a warrior, he’s our heart and soul,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of Clarke. “He was huge tonight. More so than the 15 rebounds and 20 points, he stepped up and made big free throw after big free throw. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
The game was Clarke's seventh straight in double-figure scoring and ninth double-double of the season.
After a momentous comeback in the end of regulation saw Drake rally back from a five-point deficit with 30 seconds to play, the Bulldogs held strong the entire overtime, taking an early lead on a Clarke lay-up. Egolf fouled out early in the period and Clarke gave Drake a 73-72 lead, but was fouled again, this time by Tyshon Pickett. Pickett fouled out and was whistled for a flagrant foul to give Drake four free throws. Ben Simons (Cadallac, Mich.) added the final two free throws to cap his 14 points to put the lead at 76-72.
Two more sets of made free throws by Clarke and VanDeest pushed the Bulldogs’ lead to 80-72 with 2:31 left in the extra period. The Braves hit consecutive three-pointers to make it 80-78, but Simons hit a long two-point and another flagrant foul was called against Bradley while defending Clarke.
Clarke stepped to the line and made both free throws with senior Chris Hines (Houston, Texas) adding two more on the next possession. Their four made free throws gave Drake an 86-78 lead with 44 seconds to play to effectively seal the victory. The Bulldogs made 38 of their 44 free-throw attempts on the night, the most by the Bulldogs under Phelps.
“We still had to make them [the free throws] and Jordan [Clarke] was huge,” Phelps said. “He’s really been knocking down free throws. We were committed to going inside and weren’t turning the ball over.”
Over the course of 45 minutes, the Bulldogs only committed 13 turnovers against a Bradley team that had averaged nearly 16 turnovers forced per game.
The two teams shot 40 percent each from the field, Bradley on 28-of-69 shooting and Drake on a 23-of-58 night. The visitors knocked in 11 three-pointers and 17 free throws while Drake hit eight three-pointers.
After two Egolf three-pointers, the Bulldogs trailed 52-40 at the 11:28 mark in the second half. Spurred by redshirt-sophomore Jeremy Jeffers’ (Wilson, N.C.) lay-in and a pair of three-pointers by freshman Micah Mason (Natrona Heights, Pa.), the home team stormed back on a 19-7 run to tie the game at 59 with 4:41 to play. The 12-point comeback was the Bulldogs’ biggest in a win this season.
“We just stuck together,” Clarke said of overcoming the deficit. “We had to keep our defense tight. We knew we wouldn’t get back into the game unless we got stops. We got stops, we got rebounds and that translated to offense.”
Junior Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) hit a floater to tie the game at 63 and Simons hit two free throws to give Drake the lead at 65-63 with 2:44 left . Two consecutive steals and dunks by Bradley allowed the Braves to regain the lead and an Egolf three-pointer with 28 seconds left looked to seal the game at 70-65.
The Bulldogs prevailed, however, with a Carter basket plus a free throw to give him 10 points on the night. After Pickett missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Bulldogs missed two three-point attempts until VanDeest pulled down the offensive rebound and added two more of his 14 points before the end of regulation from the free-throw line to force overtime.
Following the overtime win, Drake’s second of the season, the Bulldogs return to action Saturday against Green Bay for the annual BracketBusters contest. Tipoff for the Bulldog’s next-to-last home game of the season is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.