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MOLINE, Ill. — It took a comeback from a double-digit deficit and a clutch shot from Caitlin Ingle, but the Drake Bulldogs lived up to their top seed at the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament.
No. 19 Drake (28-4) won its 22nd straight game — second longest in the nation, only to Connecticut — and clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a 74-69 overtime win over Northern Iowa on Sunday at the iWireless Center.
Ingle posted 22 points and seven assists, including a basket at the end of regulation that tied the game at 63-63.
CAITLIN INGLE SENDS IT TO OT!!!! pic.twitter.com/G4KE7OGFR4— Drake University WBB (@DrakeWBB) March 12, 2017
UNI’s Ellie Herzberg opened overtime with a 3-pointer to put the Panthers (24-8) up 66-63, then the Bulldogs scored the next nine points to take control for good.
The Panthers took the lead midway through the first quarter, extended it to 13 twice in the second period and took a 39-29 lead into halftime.
Like it had in the first two games of the week, Drake put together a big third quarter. Paige Greiner’s free throw put Drake in front, 43-42, and it was back and forth the rest of the way.
The final 13 minutes consisted of four ties and 11 lead changes.
Herzberg’s 3-pointer put UNI in front, 63-61, with 5 seconds left, then Ingle knotted it at the horn.
Herzberg led the Panthers with 25 points. Madison Weekly (Benton Community) scored 10 points. Megan Maahs (Western Dubuque) added six points and 15 rebounds.
Becca Hittner added 15 points for Drake, which will be making its first NCAA berth since 2007.
UNI is expected to earn a WNIT berth. The NCAA and WNIT will reveal their fields at 6 p.m. Monday.