BeBlue Preview - Missouri State & SIU
Updated: Feb 4
Drake travels to Springfield, Missouri to begin their first road trip in MVC play.
The Scoop on Missouri State: Drake (9-4, 1-0 MVC) hits the road for the first time in conference play to face both Missouri State and Southern Illinois. No. 20 Missouri State (12-2, 2-0 MVC) enters their conference home opener on a three-game win streak and have won seven of their last eight games. The Lady Bears notched road wins at Loyola and Valparaiso to open league play last weekend.
Led by first year head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, Missouri State returns all but one player from a team that finished 25-10 and reached the Sweet 16 last season. The Lady Bears are already battle-tested, having faced one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in the nation (2nd RPI). Missouri State most notably collected wins over No. 23 Minnesota, Boise State, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Missouri, with four of those wins coming on the road. The lone two losses for the Lady Bears came at No. 7 Oregon State in the Preseason WNIT Championship Game and at No. 17 Gonzaga.
Friday will be a battle of the top-two scoring offenses in the Valley (Drake 80.2 PPG, MSU 77.6 PPG). The Lady Bears shoot the ball extremely well, ranking second in the Valley in FG% (45.9%) behind Drake and rank fourth nationally in 3FG% (41.1%). Missouri State has made the most the free throw's in the conference (222 FTM), averaging just under 16 makes per game from the charity stripe. On the flip side, opponents have shot 39.8% from beyond the arc against Missouri State which is the second-to-worst mark in the country.
Senior Alexa Willard averages 17.9 PPG (3rd MVC) to lead the Lady Bears. The MVC Tournament MVP from a year ago is shooting lights out (50.0 FG%, 51.0 3FG%, 94.1 FT%) and averaged 22.5 PPG in Missouri State's first two conference games. Junior Bryce Calip is averaging a career-high 13.3 PPG while ranking second on the team in APG (3.6 APG). Sophomore Jasmine Franklin nearly averages a double-double at 11.1 PPG and 9.1 RPG. A MVC All-Freshman Team selection last season, Franklin is second behind Drake's Sara Rhine in the Valley in FG% (61.9%).
Other Players to Watch:
Ellie Ruffridge - The Pocahontas native is averaging a career-high 6.4 PPG for the Lady Bears and is second on the team in 3FGM (19). Ruffridge is one most decorated players in Iowa High School basketball history, owning the top career marks in points, three-pointers and assists.
Emily Gartner - Fourth on the team in scoring (7.3) and second in rebounding (6.0), Gartner has started in every game for the Lady Bears this season after making just two starts in the previous two seasons.
Friday night will mark the 88th all-time meeting between Drake and Missouri State (Missouri State leads series 45-42). The Bulldogs have won four-straight in Springfield and Missouri State is 6-0 at home this season. Tip-off from JQH 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 Southern Illinois:
Less than 48 hours after their game in Springfield, Drake will travel to Carbondale to square-off against Southern Illinois.
The Salukis (9-4, 1-1 MVC) split their first two conference games last weekend, defeating Valparaiso and then falling to Loyola in Chicago. SIU's loss to the Ramblers snapped a four-game winning streak that dated back to December 15. Drake and Southern Illinois faced one common opponent in their non-conference schedule (Northern Illinois) and both team's fared well. Head coach Cindy Stein brings back an experienced team, returning all five starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's squad that finished 15-15. The Salukis will host UNI on Friday night before facing Drake on Sunday.
Southern Illinois ranks fourth in the Valley in both scoring offense (73.5 PPG) and scoring defense (63.2 PPG). Junior Makenzie Silvey paces the Salukis averaging 17.5 PPG (4th MVC). Silvey has made 33 three-pointers (4th MVC) this season and enters the weekend 18 points shy of scoring 1,000 in her career. Senior Nicole Martin is second on the team in scoring (13.4 PPG) and rebounding (5.8 RPG). Martin, a two-time All-MVC First Team selection, was an AAU teammate of Drake's Sara Rhine. Abby Brockmeyer is the final Saluki to average double-figures, scoring 11.2 PPG and leads SIU in rebounding (7.7 RPG).
Other Players to Watch
Brittney Patrick - The senior ranks fourth in the Valley in assists (4.4 APG). Patrick led the league in APG last season (5.0), becoming just the second player in program history to lead the conference in that category.
Tip-off from Banterra Center is slated for 2:00 P.M. on Sunday. The broadcast will air on 1350 ESPN and on the Drake Learfield IMG Sports Network on TuneIn.
Last Time Out:
For the first time since the 1999-00 season, Drake and UNI opened conference play against one another. The Bulldogs led by as many as 35 points in a 104-87 victory over the Panthers. The 104 points were the most scored by Drake in a conference game since scoring 107 against Evansville in 2018.
The Bulldogs dominated the paint, outscoring UNI 52-24 and shot 56% from the floor. Drake also tied a season-high with 26 assists on their 37 total field goals made. Senior Becca Hittner tied a career-high with 37 points while going 18-for-18 from the free throw line, breaking an NCAA record for this season. Redshirt senior Sara Rhine tallied 16 points on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field. Redshirt sophomore Kierra Collier added 11 points and dished out a career-high eight assists.
Becca Hittner's 37 points marked the sixth game in her career scoring 30-or-more points. Hittner last scored 30-or-more points against Maine (30 PTS) at the Gulf Coast Showcase. Hittner also jumped to 10th all-time in career scoring at Drake (1,791 PTS), passing both Julie Fitzpatrick (1984-89) and Kay Riek (1980-84) on the list.
Sara Rhine has now shot 100 FG% (at least 5 FGA) in six career games. Rhine went 8-for-8 from floor for the third time in her career. The Eldon, Missouri native currently ranks fifth in the country in FG% (67.3%).
Kierra Collier scored in double-figures for the fifth time this season. The last double-figure game for the Kansas City native came on December 1 at the Gulf Coast Showcase (15 PTS vs. Auburn).
Junior Maddie Monahan snagged one rebound putting her at 100 for her career.
Monica Burich added a season-high 9 PTS in the Bulldogs' latest win.
Sophomore Maggie Negaard has shot exactly 50 FG% in three-straight games and has dished-out 5 AST in two-straight games.
Drake has now won nine-straight games over UNI, lead the series 65-24.
Drake has won 58 of their last 59 MVC regular season games.
Drake will return to Des Moines to face a pair of Hooiser State opponents, beginning with Indiana State on January 17 at 6:00 P.M. The Bulldogs finish their home stand against Evansville on January 19 at 2:00 P.M.
You can find Friday night's radio broadcast on 1350 AM or online on the Drake Learfield IMG Sports Network on TuneIn. Sunday's broadcast will air on Praise 940-AM due to the Drake Men's Basketball broadcast.