In a tale of two halves, it was the Drake women’s basketball team’s effort and focus in the final 20 minutes that sparked the Bulldogs to an 80-68 victory over Montana State on Sunday.
Drake moved above .500 for the first time this season at 4-3 following the win, while dropping the Bobcats to 2-4.
“We cranked up our defense in the second half and got our transition game going, which really seemed to spark our team,” Bulldog Head Coach Amy Stephens said. “I’m very pleased with how we’re rebounding and pushing the ball and offensively we’re done a lot of good things and now we need to improve on the defensive end.”
In the first half, Drake had nine turnovers and trailed by as many as six points. An 8-0 run capped by a basket from senior Lindsay Whorton from Independence, Mo., gave Drake its first lead of the afternoon with 21-19.
The Bobcats quickly regained the advantage before the Bulldogs closed the half on a 6-0 run, including consecutive layups from junior Lauren Dybing from Bloomington, Minn., to assume a 32-28 halftime lead.
The catalyst for the Bulldogs in the first 20 minutes was freshman Kristin Turk from Des Moines, who came contributed seven points on 3-of-3 shooting, including a three-point basket.
Montana State connected on 50 percent of its shots in the initial frame, while Drake hit at a .429 clip.
In the second half, after the Bobcats tied the score at 34, Drake rolled off seven unanswered points to grab their largest lead up to that point with 41-34, fueled by five points from sophomore Jordann Plummer from St. Louis, Mo.
Montana State rallied to cut the deficit to one, 48-47, before Dybing contributed six points in a 15-2 Drake run to give the home team a 63-49 lead with 7:40 remaining.
The Bulldogs salted away the victory at the free throw line, going 11-for-13 to conclude the game, including the final 11 points in the affair.
Senior Jill Martin from Norwalk, Iowa, tallied 16 points in the second half to lead Drake. Whorton and Dybing both scored 17 points, while Plummer added 15 points.
The Bulldogs created their offense in the contest on the strength of their rebounding as Drake outrebounded the Bobcats, 34-25, including 16-8 on the offensive glass.
After turning the ball over nine times in the first half, Drake committed only five miscues in the final period. Montana State finished with 21 turnovers, which Drake converted into 29 points.
The Bulldogs concluded the afternoon shooting 47.4 percent from the floor, while on the strength of a 58.6 shooting mark in the final 20 minutes, Montana State tickled the twines at a 54.7 clip.
Drake benefited from attacking the basket in the second half as the Bulldogs went to the line 30 times, including 19 in the final stanza alone.
Drake plays again at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Western Illinois.