Men's Basketball Wins Fresno State Classic Championship
FRESNO, Calif. - Playing its third game in 40 hours, the Drake University men's basketball team mustered every ounce of resolve to win the Fresno State Classic title with a 65-57 victory over CSU Bakersfield on Sunday.
The win was the Bulldogs third in three days to win the Classic title and improved the team to 6-1 this season. Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) turned in another strong performance with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds and three steals. The senior point guard also scored the Bulldogs’ final five points to ensure the win. Gary Ricks, Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Karl Madison (Springfield, Ill.) added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“For this group to come together in a short amount of time and win a championship is something special,” Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti said. “It’s great to be on the road and get three wins.”
Those three wins included an opening game against homestanding Fresno State and a win over Northern Arizona on Saturday in addition to Sunday’s championship-clinching win. The tournament title was the Bulldogs 20th in program history, but first since December, 2008, and first ever in a three games in three days scenario.
Drake led by as many as 12 points, 50-38, on a Carter jumper with eight minutes left in the game. However, just a day after Bakersfield erased an 11-point deficit in 34 seconds against Fresno State, the Roadrunners battled back within three points three separate times in the final four minutes.
“We had some toughness,” Giacoletti said. “We talked about it this summer and preseason, but they’ve proven they’ve got some toughness to them.”
That toughness came through in the final two minutes as a three-point play from Carter with 1:24 left gave Drake a 6-point, 63-57, cushion. On Bakersfield’s ensuing and next-to-last possession of the game, Trevor Berkeley (Tucker, Ga.) stuck with a play after losing the handle on a rebound to block an Issiah Grayson three-point attempt with 45 seconds on the clock. Grayson finished the game with a team-high 11 points in the loss.
Carter tacked on a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to account for the final tally with Berkeley forcing a turnover on Bakersfield final possession of the game.
Bakersfield opened the game with a three-pointer, but seven straight stops from the Drake defense evened the game up. A 7-0 run from the Roadrunners followed to open up their biggest lead of the game, 12-7, with 12:20 left in the half, forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Berkeley responded with five points in an 8-0 Drake run to retake the lead and five straight points from Caird and Ricks later stretched the lead to 10, 24-14, with seven minutes left in the half. The Bulldogs lead stayed at six points or larger for the remainder of the half to take a 30-22 lead into halftime.
Drake shot 50 percent in the opening half and finished the game at 48.9 percent from the floor while making 14-of-17 free-throw attempts.
The Bulldogs return to action on Dec. 7 when they take on Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena in the second game of the Big Four Classic at 7:30 p.m. Iowa State and UNI open up the doubleheader at 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcast regionally on Mediacom MC22.