TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Another staunch defensive effort and consistent scoring led the Drake University men's basketball team to a 67-56 win at Indiana State Wednesday evening in the Bulldogs’ final Missouri Valley Conference road game of the season.
Richard Carter (Detroit, Mich.) led Drake (14-15, 7-10 MVC) with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and four assists. Junior Seth VanDeest (Bettendorf, Iowa) recorded another strong showing with 14 points, 12 in the first half, while Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md.) continued to deliver with his 10th double-double of the season and fifth in the last eight games with a 10-point, 10-rebound effort.
The Bulldogs held Indiana State (17-12, 9-8 MVC) to just 34.8 percent shooting and the combination of VanDeest and Clarke dominated inside as the Bulldogs held a 24-16 advantage in points in the paint.
“I thought we played a great overall game, we defended, we rebounded, we stuck together and dealt with adversity,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said. “We took good care of the basketball. I can’t say enough about these guys, they’ve been through a lot and this shows their character.”
Indiana State, which played without the services of a suspended Manny Arop, was led by Jake Odum’s 13 points while R.J. Mahurin added 12. Drake held a five-rebound advantage as well.
Drake built up its cushion by closing the first half with an 11-0 run and holding the Sycamores scoreless for nearly five minutes to take a 27-21 lead at halftime. Drake shot 44 percent over the final eight minutes of the half after opening the game by converting on just 26.3 percent of its first 19 shots. VanDeest scored 12 of his points in the opening half on 6-of-6 shooting while Carter added six points and three assists in the half.
The Bulldogs ran their lead out to 10 points, 37-27, in the first four minutes of the second half as more shots started falling. With just under three minutes left, a Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich.) three-pointer and free throws by Carter gave Drake its biggest lead of the game at 61-46. Simons finished with 10 points, all in the second half and added seven boards.
The Sycamores employed a press in the final three minutes to try and force turnovers and stage a comeback, but the Bulldogs deftly handled the pressure and made 8-of-11 free throws in the final three minutes to thwart any potential ISU rallies. In addition to navigating the press, Drake committed just nine turnovers and is averaging just 11.3 turnovers per game during its three-game streak.
“We made the majority of our free throws down the stretch and shot 15-of-19 in the game,” Phelps said. “I can’t say enough about that and I felt we played every part of the game the right way.”
Drake returns to action to close out the regular season on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center against Southern Illinois. In addition to being the regular-season finale, the Bulldogs will honor their seniors prior to the game and alumni with the annual Alumni Game.
The legendary Drake players of past eras hit the floor at 5 p.m. A special halftime presentation will honor Dolph Pulliam in his final game in the Knapp Center before his retirement. The first 1,000 fans will also receive a commemorative Dolph Pulliam t-shirt.
“We’re going to honor our terrific seniors and our great alumni,” Phelps said of Saturday’s game. “We need all fans to be there early to take it in a great day for Drake basketball. It’s going to be a special night and we can win our fourth in a row heading to St. Louis.”