BeBlue Preview - Illinois State & Bradley
Updated: Feb 4
Drake travels to Normal, Illinois to open a two-game road trip.
The Scoop on Illinois State:
Drake (12-5, 4-1 MVC) hits the road to face Illinois State and Bradley this weekend. Illinois State (11-5, 3-3 MVC) split their two road games last weekend, winning at Valparaiso while falling at Loyola.
The Redbirds began Missouri Valley Conference play by sweeping Indiana State and Evansville at home before suffering their first league loss at Bradley on January 10. Illinois State went 8-3 in their non-conference schedule which featured victories over Illinois, Northern Illinois, North Dakota and Western Illinois. Led by third-year head coach Kristen Gillespie, the Redbirds were selected to finish sixth the MVC Preseason Poll and return two starters from a squad that finished 19-12 last season. Illinois State ranks sixth in the Valley in scoring (70.3 PPG) while limiting opponents to 61.9 points per game (3rd MVC).
Seniors Lexi Wallen (17.2 PPG) and TeTe Maggett (16.9 PPG) lead the Redbirds in the scoring. Wallen, a four-year letterwinner on the Illinois State volleyball team, ranks second in the conference behind Drake's Sara Rhine in field goal percentage (60.9%) and leads the Valley in offensive rebounds per game (2.9 OFF RPG). Wallen scored a team-high 16 points last season when Illinois State hosted Drake. Maggett averaged 21.0 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game this past weekend in league play. The 2018-19 MVC Newcomer of the Year ranks third in the Valley in assists per game (4.4 APG) and second in steals per game (2.0).
Other Players to Watch: Mary Crompton - Former standout at Iowa City Regina, Crompton has bounced back nicely after missing most of last season with an injury. The redshirt freshman is averaging 8.6 points per game (3rd ILST) and leads the team in three-pointers made (37).
Juliunn Redmond - Transfer from Tallahassee Community College (FL), Redmond is averaging 8.2 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game. The Chicago native has scored in double-figures in three conference games this season. Friday night will mark the 82nd all-time meeting between Drake and Illinois State (Drake leads series 46-35). The Bulldogs have won 13-straight against the Redbirds, including five-straight in Normal. Illinois State is 8-0 at home this season. Tip-off from Redbird Arena is at 7:00 P.M. Friday night's broadcast will air on 1350 ESPN and on the Drake Learfield IMG Sports Network on TuneIn.
The Scoop on Bradley:
Following Friday's game, Drake will make the short, 38-mile trek on I-74 from Normal to Peoria to face the Bradley Braves on Sunday afternoon.
Bradley (14-2; 5-0 MVC) enters their two-game homestand in sole possession of first place in the conference. The Braves are currently on a six-game win streak and picked up wins over Evansville, Indiana State, Illinois State, Loyola and Valparaiso to open league play and will host UNI on Friday night. Bradley strung together seven-straight victories during their non-conference schedule. Led by fourth-year head coach Andrea Gorski, the Braves were selected to finish fourth in the MVC Preseason Poll and return four starters from a team that reached 20 wins last season and went 10-8 in league play.
The Braves rank third in the conference in scoring (73.6 PPG) while leading the league in scoring defense (59.8 PPG). Bradley leads the conference in blocked shots per game (4.9) and are tops in defensive rebounds per game (30.8 DEF RPG). Bradley's starters have accounted for 79.6% of the team's scoring this season.
Sophomore Lasha Petree paces the Braves and the Valley in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game (22.8 PPG in league play). The reigning MVC Freshman of the Year leads the conference in three-point field goals made (45) and blocked shots (31). Petree has garnered three MVC Player of the Week honors this season. Junior Gabi Haack ranks second on the team in scoring (14.1 PPG), three-point field goals made (43) and eighth in rebounding (6.5 RPG). Haack scored her 1,000th career point versus Valparaiso this past weekend, making her the seventh active player in the league with 1,000 or more career points. Fellow junior Nyjah White averages 10.3 PPG (14.4 PPG in league play) to round out the double-digit scoring for the Braves.
Other Players to Watch
Chelsea Brackmann - The senior averages 9.3 points per game and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game (3rd MVC). Brackmann became Bradley's new career leader in rebounds this past weekend with 848 career boards. The New Berlin, WI native led the conference in rebounding last season averaging 10.9 rebounds per game.
Tip-off from the Renaissance Center is slated for 2:00 P.M. on Sunday. The broadcast will air on Praise 940 AM on you can find the game on the Drake Learfield IMG College Sports Network on TuneIn.
Last Time Out:
For the first time in program history Drake scored over 100 points in back-to-back conference games and swept both Indiana State and Evansville. The Bulldogs poured 105 points in their win over the Sycamores and 108 against the Purple Aces. Sunday's final point total marked a new program record for the most points scored in regulation in a conference game. Drake's two home wins extended their winning streak in the Knapp Center to 14-straight.
Drake dished out 56 assists on their 68 field goals made last weekend, marking an impressive 82.4% assisted shot rate.
Six different players scored in double-figures in Drake's win over Evansville. Four-or-more players have scored in double-figures in three-straight games and now 10 games total this season.
Redshirt senior Sara Rhine is shooting 72.3 FG% in league play to lead the Valley. Teammates Maddie Monahan and Monica Burich are not too for behind at 69.2 FG%, which is tied for second in the conference.
Junior Maddie Monahan scored a career-high 21 points in Drake's win over Indiana State. Monahan has scored in double-figures in three-straight contests, averaging 15.0 PPG (16-19 FGM, 84.2 FG%) and dishing out 14 assists to just four turnovers during that stretch.
Senior Becca Hittner scored over 10 points in a single quarter in both victories this past weekend. Hittner scored 11 points in the second quarter of Drake's win over Indiana State on Friday while scoring 14 points in the first quarter in the win over Evansville on Sunday.
Hittner also jumped to ninth on the career scoring list at Drake by passing Jan Krieger (1978-82). The former Dowling Catholic standout has 1,859 career points and is 70 points away from passing Jill Martin for eighth all-time.
Sara Rhine scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Drake's win over Evansville. Rhine collected seven of those rebounds in the first quarter. That was Rhine's third double-double of the season and 25th of her career.
Rhine combined to swat nine blocks in both victories over the weekend, and is now sixth all-time in program history in career blocks with 83.
With her season-high 16 points over Evansville, senior Brenni Rose surpassed 800 career points.
Scoring four points in the victory on Sunday, junior Hannah Fuller eclipsed 100 career points.
Redshirt senior Monica Burich scored a season-high 12 points in the win over Evansville and snagged five rebounds. Those five boards put the Roseville, MN native at exactly 200 career rebounds at Drake.
Freshman Sarah Beth Gueldner tied a career-high with 15 points last Sunday. Gueldner also tied a career-high with five makes from downtown and is third on the team in three-pointers made (19).
Drake returns to Des Moines for a two-game homestand and will face both Valparaiso and Loyola. You can find both radio broadcasts on 1350 AM or online on the Drake Learfield IMG Sports Network on TuneIn.