Men's Basketball Rolls Past NAU, 76-56
FRESNO, Calif. - Paced by four players in double-digit scoring, the Drake men's basketball team led for the full 40 minutes in a 76-56 win over Northern Arizona at the Fresno State Classic on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs shot 52.6 percent from the field and 55 percent from the three-point arc to improve to 5-1 and set a new program record for the most wins in November. Junior Chris Caird (Daventry, England) poured in a career-high 16 points while point guard Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) added 12 points, seven assists and four steals. Northern Arizona (2-5) was led by Quinton Upshur's 20 points.
The Bulldogs, which have struggled in the opening minutes of games this season, set the tone early with a 14-2 spurt to open the game. Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark.) contributed early and often with five points on a dunk and three-pointer in the first six minutes of the game. The senior finished with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the arc.
“That’s something that we haven’t done this year, to open a game up and sustain our effort,” Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We were able to do that tonight. We wanted to get three stops in a row to start the game and we were able to do that within the first five possessions.”
Hawley added five more points in the half as the Bulldogs’ lead ballooned out to as many as 16 in the half before taking a comfortable 37-22 lead into the locker room. The defense held NAU to just 32.3 percent shooting in the half while forcing seven turnovers.
Drake maintained control in the second half and needed just eight minutes to extend it to 22 points, 57-35, on a three-pointer from Trevor Berkeley (Tucker, Ga.) that capped a 7-0 run. Berkeley finished with nine points. The Bulldogs’ lead remained at 19 or larger for the final 12 minutes to cruise to the win while conserving energy with no player seeing more than 31 minutes of action.
“We were able to play a lot of guys tonight and we know that you have very few opportunities to go win something,” Giacoletti said. “If we can get a win tomorrow, we can win this tournament. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often a season.”
Drake will face CSU Bakersfield in the final game of the Fresno State Classic at 1 p.m. CST on Sunday with the chance to emerge from the tournament with three wins. The Roadrunners opened action in Fresno with a win over NAU are play Fresno State Saturday evening.
“They’re an extremely athletic and veteran team,” Giacoletti said of Bakersfield. “We’ll need to do a great job taking their transition away and rebounding.”