DES MOINES, IOWA —
Indiana State proved it could put its foot on the gas pedal and score against Drake on Saturday.
But that ISU foot wasn’t so sure on the brakes against a good offensive Drake team.
ISU shot 59.1 percent in the second half, but against a Sycamore team that prides itself on making stops, Drake countered with a 58.3 percent half.
ISU had to fight uphill in the second half to force overtime, but the Sycamores ran out of gas in the extra period and the Bulldogs earned a 74-71 overtime victory.
With Wichita State losing at Northern Iowa earlier Saturday, ISU had a chance to move into a second-place tie with the Shockers in the Missouri Valley Conference, but couldn’t get there. The Sycamores fell to 7-4 in the MVC and 14-8 overall.
“We pride ourselves more on the defensive end than the offensive end. We can score it, but we want to hold teams under 65. It turned into a running match and that’s not our style,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
Dawon Cummings led ISU with 16 points. R.J. Mahurin and Odum each had 14.
Ben Simons burned ISU, especially early in the second half, with 21 points.
“We made all of the effort plays when we beat Wichita State [on Tuesday]. I thought Drake beat us to those tonight,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said. “You can’t go on the road and let a team win 50 percent. It’s disappointing.”
Drake built on a miraculous foundation – Gary Ricks Jr. drained a half-court shot at the first half buzzer to cut ISU’s halftime lead to two.
After Drake’s Joey King – who had 12 points – drained a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs in front, Simons got free for three 3-pointers on three consecutive Bulldogs possessions early in the second half. He turned a Drake deficit into a six-point lead.
“He’s good. He moves really well without the ball. It’s hard to guard a guy like that with one guy. We were just a little slow tonight on defense. They had us on our heels,” Lansing said.
Drake led by as much as eight, but ISU whittled away at the lead. ISU tied it at 57 by the 7:14 mark and twice took the lead, the last time on a Manny Arop 3-pointer at 4:15 to make it 62-61.
Drake coach Mark Phelps then put the Bulldogs into a tight zone defense and buckets became harder to come by for the Sycamores.
Odum tied the game in regulation with a leaner with 45 seconds left, and ISU had a chance to win the game with the last possession of regulation, but Drake’s zone made it tough to get a clean shot off. Odum’s off-balance missed the mark.
Drake (11-11, 5-6) started overtime on a 5-0 run. Simons drained a 3-pointer and Jordan Clarke converted a putback to make it 72-67.
Drake played a tightly-packed zone in much of the second half and overtime, but found the gaps in it via a Mahurin layup and Arop leaner to make it 72-71.
ISU had two chances to take lead, but Mahurin missed a layup at 1:50 and Arop turned it over in lane at 1:02.
After King missed with 31 seconds left, ISU had the ball with the shot clock off.
But Drake’s zone befuddled the Sycamores. The ball eventually found its way to Justin Gant, who missed an open 3-point attempt with 10 seconds left. The ball went out of bounds to Drake.
The play wasn’t intended for Gant, but Lansing had less of a problem with Gant’s attempt than some that he thought were passed up before that.
“[Drake guard Chris] Hines jumped the screen, Jake got in deep, and I thought we passed up a couple of decent shots. It’s not the shot we wanted, but I thought we were hesitant to pull the trigger before that. It wasn’t a bad shot,” Lansing said.
After Hines made a pair of free throws, ISU had a chance to tie the game and force a second overtime, but Drake made it tough on the Sycamores again. Cummings settled for an off-balance 3-point attempt that was short of the mark.
The first half was characterized by ISU’s ability to take advantage of opportunities and spurt of points from Cummings, but it ended in tears.
A 7-0 ISU run midway through the half – a stretch in which Drake had four turnovers – pushed ISU’s lead to 20-12. ISU scored 15 points off nine Drake turnovers in the first half.
Drake answered with an 8-2 run to make it 22-20, but ISU slowly re-built its advantage and a Cummings steal and finger-roll made it 34-26 with 52 seconds left. Cummings had 10 points in the first half.
Drake finished the first half on a 6-0 run punctuated by a miracle heave. After Lucas Eitel missed a 3-pointer with :04 left, Ricks Jr. broke free for a half-court heave … and drained it.
“Those three points right there … its one reason it went overtime. That hurt us, but we stopped playing at the end of the half, and we can’t do that if we’re going to be a good team,” Odum said.
ISU next plays host to Creighton on Wednesday. A positive outcome for ISU will be crucial towards its NCAA Tournament hopes.
“It’s a must-win now. They’re a good team. A high-powered team,” Odum said. “We think we can compete with them and we have to put all we’ve got into that game.”