DES MOINES, IOWA - In arguably its best basketball performance of the season,
Drake registered a 72-69 victory over in-state rival Northern Iowa on Saturday
(Feb. 5) in the Knapp Center.
The win snapped the Panthers' eight-game winning streak and
improved the Bulldogs to 10-14 overall and 5-8 in the Missouri Valley
Conference, while dropping Northern Iowa's ledger to 18-7, including 9-4 in
In a contest that featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes it
came down the final shot of the game to decide a winner.
Drake held a 70-67 lead after a layup by senior Ryan Wedel (Minneapolis,
Kan./Minneapolis) with 30 seconds left in the tilt.
Kwadzo Ahelegbe cut the margin to 70-69 for Northern Iowa
making a layup of his own with 18 ticks remaining on the clock.
The Panthers immediately fouled freshman Rayvonte Rice (Champaign, Ill./Centennial), who
hit the first of two free throws to push the advantage to 71-69 with 13 seconds
Anthony James' subsequent layup didn't fall and the rebound
was corralled by redshirt sophomore Jordan Clarke (Rockville, Md./Our Lady of Good
Counsel), who made the second of two free throws to give Drake a 72-69 lead
with 4.2 ticks remaining in the game.
A three pointer as time expired failed to fall for Jake Koch
and the Bulldogs celebrated their first victory over the Panthers in five
During the second half neither team went on a run of more
than five. Drake took its biggest lead of the game at 49-44 with 11:57 left to
play, but Northern Iowa answered with a 5-0 run of its own to tie it at 49 all
with 10:48 left.
The Bulldogs established a new school record for fewest
turnovers in a game with three.
The previous low was set on Feb. 16, 2008 at Northern Iowa, a contest
where Drake defeated the Panthers to clinch the 2008 MVC regular season
title. Northern Iowa was equally
as adept at taking care of the ball turning it over only four times.
The three turnovers were also the best-team effort in the
MVC this season.
Rice sparked Drake registering a team-high 19-point performance,
while sophomore Ben Simons (Cadillac, Mich./Cadillac) and Wedel added 12 and 10
Ahelegbe directed all players scoring a game-best 26
points. Joining him in double
figures was James with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort and Koch with 13 points.
For the first time this season Drake outrebounded its
opponent in back-to-back games as the Bulldogs bested the Panthers on the
glass, 30-28, including 9-6 on the offensive end. Clarke recorded a team-best seven-rebound effort for Drake.
The Bulldogs finished the contest shooting 49.1 percent from
the floor, while Northern Iowa was just a shade behind connecting on 49 percent
of its attempts.
Drake garnered solid production off the bench as its
reserves outscored the Panthers, 24-10.
Keying that statistic was six, six, five and five points, respectively,
from sophomore Aaron Hawley (Rogers, Ark./Rogers), junior Kurt Alexander (Toronto, Ontario/Pine Ridge
Secondary), sophomore Reece Uhlenhopp (Urbandale, Iowa./Urbandale) and redshirt junior Kraidon Woods (Henryville,
Pa./Pocono Mountain East).
The Bulldogs return to action on Tuesday (Feb. 8) as Drake
hosts Creighton at 7:06 p.m.
Today marked the first time Drake has outrebounded opponents
in two straight MVC games this season...the 30 points scored by Drake in first
half were the most by the Bulldogs in their last five outings vs. Northern
Iowa...Drake had scored 18 points in Cedar Falls Jan. 22
and 24 in all three meetings vs. the Panthers in 2009-10...the 72 points against UNI
also were the most by Drake in its last five games against the Panthers...Ryan
Wedel doubled his scoring output from previous outing vs. UNI when he
had five points, by collecting 10 including six in first half...Kurt Alexander,
who was held to just one point in previous game against the Panthers,
had six points...Rice made 4-of-5 shots from the floor in the second half en
route to a team high 19 points...Northern Iowa was 16-1 prior to today's game
when scoring 60 or more points...today marked the first time the Panthers had
lost a game this season when Jake Koch scored 12 or more points, UNI was 8-0
prior to its loss today.