Women's Basketball Beats Top-Seeded Indiana State To Advance To MVC Tournament Title Game
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The Drake University women’s basketball team rallied to beat the top-seeded Indiana State Sycamores, 66-58, to advance to the championship game of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at The Family Arena.
The Bulldogs will face the winner of Illinois State and Wichita State on Sunday at 2:07 p.m. as they try to capture their sixth MVC tournament title and their first since 2007.
Drake (17-14), who trailed Indiana State 32-27 at halftime, came out of the locker room on fire in the second half with a 10-0 scoring run, which included Kyndal Clark’s (Webb City, Mo.) first three-pointer of the game to take a 37-32 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
Drake held Indiana State (20-11) scoreless for the first four minutes of the half and forced four turnovers as the Sycamores finished just 11-of-40 from the floor and 2-of-14 from the three-point line in the final 20 minutes. For the game, Indiana State was 23-of-71 (32.4 percent) from the field and just 5-of-25 (20 percent) from three-point range.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the resiliency that this team had today,” said head coach Jennie Baranczyk. “Indiana State is a very, very good basketball team. They’re a lot stronger than us, they’re bigger than us, but today, in the second half, we came out with poise and did all the little things.”
Clark and freshman Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.) led all scorers with 20 points apiece, with Clark pouring in 18 points in the second half. Wendell did most of her damage in the first half with 13 points as she fouled out late and played just 27 minutes.
Caitlin Ingle (Runnells, Iowa), who joined Wendell on the MVC All-Freshman team, added 10 points, a game-high seven assists and five rebounds. Redshirt junior Carly Grenfell (York, Neb.) had six points, seven rebounds and three steals off the bench for the Bulldogs.
Indiana State made things interesting in the final minutes, closing to within four points on three separate occasions, but the Bulldogs answered at the free-throw line, making their last eight free throws to hold on for the win. Drake finished the game 18-of-25 (72 percent) from the charity stripe.
Drake’s freshmen duo of Ingle and Wendell carried the team in the first half with eight points and 13 points, respectively. Wendell connected on Drake’s only three-pointer of the opening half as the team finished 1-of-14 from beyond the arc. Drake bounced back from long range in the second half knocking down five three-pointers
“We’re all good shooters,” said Clark. “That’s what we do; we shoot the three and Coach Jennie (Baranczyk) just kept saying, ‘You know, they’re going to fall.’ They can’t all not fall, when that’s what we do. That’s part of our game plan.”
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who scored a team-high 11 points for Indiana State in the first half, extended its lead to 29-18 with just over five minutes remaining. However, the Bulldogs chipped away at the deficit, outscoring the Sycamores, 9-3, as they trailed 32-27 at the break.
Drake is now 4-1 versus Indiana State in Valley tournament games. Drake has won five Valley tournament titles, the first four (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001) all happened in Springfield, Mo. with the last occurring at the Knapp Center in 2007. That was the final on-campus MVC Tournament as it moved to St. Charles in 2008.
The Bulldogs are 36-20 all-time in Valley Tournament play, just one win behind Missouri State for the league lead in Valley Tourney wins.