DES MOINES, Iowa – Paced by four players scoring double-figures, the Drake University women’s basketball team defeated Milwaukee, 79-57, on Sunday afternoon in Drake’s final contest before the start of Missouri Valley Conference play.
Junior guard Kyndal Clark (Webb City, Mo.) scored a game-high 19 points, while senior guard Alyssa Marschner added 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks to help the Bulldogs improve to 6-5 overall. Freshman Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.) added 13 points, while junior Cara Lutes (Maplewood, Minn.) chipped in 11 points and four rebounds on her birthday.
Milwaukee had three players in double-digits led by Avyanna Young’s 15 points as the Panthers drop to 3-9 on the season. Drake limited Milwaukee, who came into the game averaging 68.2 points per game, to its second lowest point total of the season.
“Today we had some great moments with the team ready to come back after four days off,” said Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk. “They were hungry and ready to start the second half of our season. We ended the non-conference portion of our season very strong and I’m very proud of that. I’m happy about our rebounding effort, having multiple players in double figures and our shooting percentage at fifty percent.”
Early on the two teams traded points as the score was tied at 8-8 going into the first official timeout. Clark, who earned MVC Player of the Week honors on Dec. 23, scored eight early points, including two three-pointers to help Drake open up a 20-14 lead going into the second media timeout of the first half.
Tough defense by the Bulldogs followed after the second media timeout as they held the Panthers to just one point to take a 28-15 lead with 7:57 left in the half.
“I thought we did a great job on the defensive end today,” said Baranczyk. “There were some lulls in the game offensively, but it never took us away from our defensive plan.”
Trailing by as much as 14 points with 4:17 to go in the half, Milwaukee trimmed its deficit to 41-33 at the halftime break after Ashley Green knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Hot shooting from the floor at 56 percent (14-of-25) and beyond the arc at 63.6 percent (7-of-11) propelled the Bulldogs in the opening half.
Wendell, who battled foul trouble all game before fouling out with just over three minutes left in the game, drilled back-to-back three pointers to start the second half to give Drake a double-digit lead again at 47-35. Milwaukee quickly called a timeout at the 18:32 mark, however, it was not enough to stop Drake who would never let the lead slip below 10 points the rest of the contest.
Lutes’ birthday performance helped Drake’s bench outscore Milwaukee’s, 30-22. Redshirt junior guard Carly Grenfell (York, Neb.) pulled down a career-high nine rebounds as the Bulldogs outrebounded the Panthers, 42-33. Drake finished 10-of-20 (50 percent) from beyond the arc as its the fifth time this season that the Bulldogs knocked down 10 or more three-pointers in a game.
Drake opens MVC action on Jan. 3 at Illinois State with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. at Redbird Arena.