DES MOINES, Iowa – Junior Kyndal Clark (Webb City, Mo.) poured in a career-high 35 points, while freshman Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.) added a career-high 22 points to help propel the Drake University women’s basketball team past the SIUE Cougars, 87-71, in front of a season-high 3,561 fans on Tuesday afternoon at the Knapp Center.
Tuesday’s contest was played in front of more than 1,700 loud and energetic local elementary and middle school students as part of Drake women’s basketball’s first-ever “Pack the Knapp” game. The Drake athletic department and Character Counts In Iowa partnered by inviting local schools to come enjoy a morning of educational presentations, games and activities and then stay for the afternoon matinee.
Clark, who became the first Bulldog to score 30 or more points since Rachael Hackbarth dropped 32 points at Indiana State on Jan. 22, 2012, tied her career-best with 12 free throws on 14 attempts. She equaled her season-high marks for rebounds with eight and five three-pointers. Wendell knocked down 11-of-12 from the free-throw line to set her career best and added seven boards, three assists and three steals. The duo helped the Bulldogs finish a season-best 78.8 percent (26-of-33) from the foul line.
Drake (5-4) shook off 12 days of rust since its last contest on its first few possessions as SIUE (2-9) raced out to an early 6-0 lead. However, Clark knocked down two three-pointers and redshirt junior Carly Grenfell (York, Neb.) added one as well to put the Bulldogs up 9-6 at the first media timeout. Drake would never trail again the rest of the afternoon.
After SIUE tied the score at 27-27, the Bulldogs ripped off eight unanswered points to take a 35-27 halftime lead. Clark scored 13 points, while Wendell added nine points and four boards in the opening half. Nine Bulldogs saw the court and five made at least one three-pointer.
Out of halftime, the Cougars trimmed the deficit to 36-33 on a jumper by Valerie Finnin, but the Bulldogs responded with a 14-3 scoring burst to take a 50-36 lead with 15:24 remaining. The run helped the Bulldogs cruise to the win as their lead never dropped below 10 points the rest of the game.
Sophomore Ashley Bartow (Sun Prairie, Wis.) had 10 points and seven rebounds, while senior Alyssa Marschner (Plymouth, Minn.) scored seven points and dished out a game-high four assists. Drake outrebounded SIUE, 40-31, to help win its third-straight contest. Its Drake’s longest winning streak since the 2011-12 team won four-straight twice that campaign.
Drake will face the No. 22/25 Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. and will be broadcast on Mediacom Channel 22.