CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – An early first-half deficit coupled with a 16-0 UNI run in the second half proved to be too much for the Drake University men’s basketball team to overcome as the Panthers defeated the Bulldogs, 85-55, Sunday afternoon.
Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but the previously hot-shooting Bulldogs (8-10, 2-5 MVC) converted on just 35.6 of their attempts in the loss.
“We just didn’t make shots and guys that had been making shots, didn’t,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “Certainly that’s not the whole story, but that’s what allowed them [UNI] to get separation and pull away.”
Deon Mitchell led UNI (10-9, 3-4 MVC) with 20 points to pace four Panthers in double-figures including Jake Koch with 16 points on near-perfect 7-of-8 shooting. As a team, UNI converted on 60 percent of their shots and were shooting above 70 percent from the field for the majority of the second half.
Halfway through the first half, Drake held a two-point lead before a 13-0 run vaulted UNI into a 11-point, 28-17, lead with over a 3:13 span. The Panthers kept the Bulldogs at bay for the remainder of the half before taking a 15-point, 37-22, lead into the lockerroom.
Carter scored 12 of his points in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting.
“Richard did a good job getting the ball in the paint,” Phelps said. “He was one of the bright spots along with Jordan Clarke who did a great job rebounding. Other than those two guys we really didn’t play well today.”
Clarke (Rockville, Md.) finished the game with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Coming out of intermission, the Bulldogs couldn’t reverse the momentum as UNI used a 16-0 run four minutes into the second half to extend its lead to 28 at 59-31. Chip Rank and Mitchell ignited that run with a back-to-back three-pointers.
Another 8-0 spurt that started with seven minutes to play pushed the UNI lead out to a then game-high 36 points. Drake couldn’t make any significant cuts into the substantial UNI lead as the Panthers converted on 68 percent of their shots from the field in the second half.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs’ offense remained stalled due in large part to the Panthers effectively double-teaming Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) in the post.
“When they commit two guys to a double-team you’ve got to knock down shots and that’s what we didn’t do today,” Phelps added.
The Bulldogs return home on Wednesday to host nationally ranked Creighton at the Knapp Center. Tipoff between the Bulldogs and Bluejays is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.
“We’ve got two days and a really good Creighton team coming into the Knapp Center,” Phelps said. “So we’ve got to forget about some things from this game, get back in the gym, get better and get ready to roll.”