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Men's Basketball Team Captures First MVC Title Since 1971

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: February 16, 2008
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Leonard Houston had 12 points and six rebounds at UNI.
Courtesy: Drake Athletics
CEDAR FALLS, IOWA -- Senior guards Adam Emmenecker and Leonard Houston scored four points apiece to trigger a 13-2 scoring spree late in the game, enabling No. 14 Drake to beat Northern Iowa, 65-55, while winning its first Missouri Valley Conference title since 1971.

The Bulldogs, who were picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches and media poll, improved to 23-2 overall including a 14-1 league mark.

Their win, combined with second-place Illinois State's 76-72 loss at Indiana State, allowed Drake to win the regular season title. Illinois State slipped to 10-5 with just three league games remaining.

It marked Drake's ninth road win to set a school record. And this victory was done in similar fashion by erasing a first-half deficit.

"It has been an amazing year," said first-year Drake coach Keno Davis. "Being picked ninth in the preseason poll makes this sweeter because the players came into the season with a chip on their shoulder.

"These guys play with a quiet confidence. They aren't a rah-rah group."

Drake wiped out a 29-28 halftime deficit to push its record to 7-1 when trailing at halftime this season, including 6-1 on the road.

The 23 wins are the second most in a season by a Drake team, trailing only the 26-5 record by the 1968-69 team which finished third in the NCAA Final Four.

With the scored tied at 48-48 reserve forward Brent Heemskerk started Drake's late outburst with a layup off a feed from guard Adam Emmenecker.

Heemskerk caught the Northern Iowa defense sleeping and threw a perfect alley-oop to Houston, whose dunk put the Bulldogs ahead 52-48.

Senior Klayton Korver grabbed a tough rebound and hit a three-point basket at the other end to stretch Drake's lead to 55-48 with 4:13 left. Emmenecker hit a layup in traffic to make it 57-50.

Houston’s putback pushed the Drake’s lead to 59-50 with 1:52 left.

This marked the first time Drake has ever won consecutive road games in back-to-back seasons at Northern Iowa.

It also marked Drake's 10th straight victory against an Iowa college (Waldorf, Iowa State-2, Iowa-2, Northern Iowa-4 and Cornell).

Emmenecker had a game-high 13 points along with eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals as Drake set a school record with just four turnovers.

Houston and Josh Young finished with 12 points apiece.

Young and Korver hit three three-point baskets to help Drake set a school single-season record with 233 three-point baskets, bettering the previous mark of 232 set in the 2001-02 season.

Despite missing 11 of its first 15 shots, Drake was able to go ahead 20-15 on a three-point basket by junior reserve guard Jacob Baryenbruch.

Junior forward Jonathan Cox also grabbed a team high seven rebounds for Drake which outrebounded the taller Panthers, 33-25.

The Bulldogs made 18 of 19 free throws to overcome 39.2 percent shooting from the floor (20-51).

DOG BITES: This marks the first time Drake has won 14 MVC games since the Bulldogs posted a 14-2 record in 1969-70 en route to earning a share of the MVC title...The 23 wins by coach Keno Davis are the most ever by a first-year head coach at Drake...Emmenecker moved into a tie for No. 3 on the school single-season assists list at 148 with Lamont Evans (1999-2000).
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