WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State used a 14-point first-half lead to withstand multiple second-half rallies from the Drake University men's basketball team and defeat the Bulldogs, 71-56, Wednesday night at Charles Koch Arena.
Drake (11-14, 5-9 MVC) was led by Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting. His 15 points moved him into the top 10 in career scoring at Drake with 1,294 career points. Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) added 11 points and six assists while Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) continued his strong play with 10 points for his fifth straight game in double-figures and eight boards.
Wichita State (21-5, 10-4 MVC) was led by Fred VanVleet’s 17 points and nine assists off the bench. Carl Hall added 14 points and 10 rebounds to help the Shockers hold a 45-29 advantage in rebounding.
Drake was held to just two points in the final 9:37 of the first half to allow the Shockers to build up a 30-16 lead at halftime that would ultimately prove insurmountable for the Bulldogs. Kori Babineaux (Sacramento, Calif.) scored six points, one shy of a career high, in the first half during a four-minute span to give the Bulldogs an early lead.
A Carter jumper followed at the 9:37 mark to put Drake up 14-12. However, the Shockers answered with a 15-0 run as Drake couldn’t get shots to fall while the WSU defense limited Drake to 21.4 percent shooting in the half. WSU closed the half on an 18-2 run to take a comfortable lead into the locker room with balanced scoring from four Shockers that scored at least five points in the opening half.
The Bulldogs came out firing in the second half and connected on three-straight three-pointers to cut the lead to nine, 34-25, in the first two minutes of the half. The spurt was indicative of the Bulldogs’ improved second-half offense as the team connected on 52.4 percent of its shots in the second half and 7-of-12 from the three-point arc.
However, the Shockers continued to hit shots as well and answered that Bulldog rally with seven straight points to extend the lead back out to 16 points with 14:41 left in the contest. That lead would reach as many as 21 points, 54-33, with 11:12 to play on a Cleanthony Early three-point play, but the Bulldogs were undeterred as a 14-1 run pulled Drake back within eight points, 55-47, with six minutes left. Eleven of those 14 points came from the hot hands of Simons and Carter during that span.
Again, the Shockers answered the challenge and over the next four minutes pushed their lead back out to as many as 18 points to hang on for the final 71-56 tally and move into sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Bulldogs return home for their next contest on Saturday, Feb. 16 against in-state Missouri Valley Conference rival Northern Iowa. Tipoff against the Panthers is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast regionally on Mediacom MC22.