Drake Stakes Claim To 72-69 Victory Over In-State Rival Northern Iowa
The win snapped the Panthers' eight-game winning streak and improved the Bulldogs to 10-14 overall and 5-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while dropping Northern Iowa's ledger to 18-7, including 9-4 in league play.
In a contest that featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes it came down the final shot of the game to decide a winner.
Drake held a 70-67 lead after a layup by senior Ryan Wedel (Minneapolis, Kan./Minneapolis) with 30 seconds left in the tilt.
Kwadzo Ahelegbe cut the margin to 70-69 for Northern Iowa making a layup of his own with 18 ticks remaining on the clock.
The Panthers immediately fouled freshman Rayvonte Rice (Champaign, Ill./Centennial), who hit the first of two free throws to push the advantage to 71-69 with 13 seconds left.
Anthony James' subsequent layup didn't fall and the rebound was corralled by redshirt sophomore Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel), who made the second of two free throws to give Drake a 72-69 lead with 4.2 ticks remaining in the game.
A three pointer as time expired failed to fall for Jake Koch and the Bulldogs celebrated their first victory over the Panthers in five games.
During the second half neither team went on a run of more than five. Drake took its biggest lead of the game at 49-44 with 11:57 left to play, but Northern Iowa answered with a 5-0 run of its own to tie it at 49 all with 10:48 left.
The Bulldogs established a new school record for fewest turnovers in a game with three. The previous low was set on Feb. 16, 2008 at Northern Iowa, a contest where Drake defeated the Panthers to clinch the 2008 MVC regular season title. Northern Iowa was equally as adept at taking care of the ball turning it over only four times.
The three turnovers were also the best-team effort in the MVC this season.
Rice sparked Drake registering a team-high 19-point performance, while sophomore Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich./Cadillac) and Wedel added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Ahelegbe directed all players scoring a game-best 26 points. Joining him in double figures was James with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort and Koch with 13 points.
For the first time this season Drake outrebounded its opponent in back-to-back games as the Bulldogs bested the Panthers on the glass, 30-28, including 9-6 on the offensive end. Clarke recorded a team-best seven-rebound effort for Drake.
The Bulldogs finished the contest shooting 49.1 percent from the floor, while Northern Iowa was just a shade behind connecting on 49 percent of its attempts.
Drake garnered solid production off the bench as its reserves outscored the Panthers, 24-10. Keying that statistic was six, six, five and five points, respectively, from sophomore Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark./Rogers), junior Kurt Alexander (Toronto, Ontario/Pine Ridge Secondary), sophomore Reece Uhlenhopp (Urbandale, Iowa./Urbandale) and redshirt junior Kraidon Woods (Henryville, Pa./Pocono Mountain East).
The Bulldogs return to action on Tuesday (Feb. 8) as Drake hosts Creighton at 7:06 p.m.
Today marked the first time Drake has outrebounded opponents in two straight MVC games this season...the 30 points scored by Drake in first half were the most by the Bulldogs in their last five outings vs. Northern Iowa...Drake had scored 18 points in Cedar Falls Jan. 22 and 24 in all three meetings vs. the Panthers in 2009-10...the 72 points against UNI also were the most by Drake in its last five games against the Panthers...Ryan Wedel doubled his scoring output from previous outing vs. UNI when he had five points, by collecting 10 including six in first half...Kurt Alexander, who was held to just one point in previous game against the Panthers, had six points...Rice made 4-of-5 shots from the floor in the second half en route to a team high 19 points...Northern Iowa was 16-1 prior to today's game when scoring 60 or more points...today marked the first time the Panthers had lost a game this season when Jake Koch scored 12 or more points, UNI was 8-0 prior to its loss today.