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Drake women's basketball repeats in MVC, captures NCAA bid

Bulldogs down UNI 75-63 in tournament final

Drake Bulldogs
Drake Bulldogs

MOLINE, Ill. — Right now, it’s Drake’s league, plain and simple.

The Bulldogs held Northern Iowa without a field goal for the final 7:28 and earned an NCAA women’s basketball tournament berth, 75-63, in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at the TaxSlayer Center.

Drake (26-7) won its 21st consecutive game, the fifth-longest active streak in Division-I. In the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have followed an 18-0 MVC regular season with a league tournament title.

“I’m speechless,” Drake Coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “I’m just very, very proud of our girls.”

The Bulldogs captured an automatic NCAA bid, their 12th in school history. The 64-team field will be revealed at 6 p.m. Monday.

Sara Rhine and Nicole Miller scored 12 points apiece for the winners, and Becca Jonas and Maddy Dean added 10 each.

Dean was named the tournament MVP.

Rose Simon-Ressler and Mikaela Morgan paced UNI (19-13) with nine points apiece. Megan Maahs added eight points and 11 rebounds.

UNI rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit, and took a 49-48 lead on Taylor Hagen’s basket with 5:31 left in the third quarter.

That advantage lasted 19 seconds.

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Miller — a former Miss Iowa Basketball winner at North Linn — put the Bulldogs back in front with a drive, then Paige Greiner followed with a three-point play for a 53-49 advantage.

It was 62-56 entering the fourth quarter, and Drake’s lead was 64-61 when Maahs converted a hook shot with 7:28 to go. But the Panthers missed their final 10 shots from the floor, and Drake pulled away.

“You can’t have empty possessions against a team like Drake,” UNI Coach Tanya Warren said. “They turn you over, and turn those turnovers into points.”

Baranczyk said, “We started rebounding in the fourth quarter, and that’s where our gap started to form.”

UNI received an NCAA at-large bid last year. An NCAA return is highly unlikely, but a WNIT bid is a possibility.

Drake scored the first seven points of the game and led, 20-12, after a first quarter in which eight different Drake players contributed a basket, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

“We have 10 players that are very talented, and they all have a part in it,” Dean said.

The margin grew as large as 13 (29-16) on Sara Rhine’s two free throws at the 7:00 mark of the second quarter before UNI raced back.

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Simon-Ressler’s basket with 1:56 left in the half brought the Panthers within 37-36, but Hannah Fuller and Dean ended the half with a pair of 3-pointers, and it was 43-36 at intermission.

DRAKE 75, NORTHERN IOWA 63

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Final, at Moline, Ill.

NORTHERN IOWA (63): Ellie Howell 2-12 0-0 6, Rose Simon-Ressler 3-7 2-2 9, Kennedy Kirkpatrick 2-10 1-1 6, Mikaela Morgan 3-8 1-2 9, Megan Maahs 4-7 0-0 8, Karli Rucker 0-3 2-2 2, Nicole Kroeger 3-7 0-0 8, Bre Gunnels 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Wheatcraft 0-0 0-0 0, Heidi Hillyard 1-2 0-0 3, Taylor Hagen 2-5 2-2 6, Abby Gerrits 2-6 0-0 6. Totals 22-67 8-9 63.

DRAKE (75): Maddie Monahan 0-3 2-2 2, Becca Hittner 2-6 5-8 9, Brenna Rose 2-8 0-0 4, Sammie Bachrodt 2-6 1-2 7, Becca Jonas 5-8 0-1 10, Paige Greiner 2-4 1-1 6, Maddy Dean 4-9 0-0 10, Hannah Fuller 1-1 0-0 3, Nicole Miller 3-5 4-4 12, Sara Rhine 4-8 3-4 12. Totals 25-58 16-22 75.

Halftime: Drake 43, UNI 36. 3-point goals: UNI 11-30 (Howell 2-5, Simon-Ressler 1-3, Kirkpatrick 1-6, Morgan 2-6, Rucker 0-1, Kroeger 2-5, Hillyard 1-1, Gerrits 2-3), Drake 9-22 (Monahan 0-2, Rose 0-3, Bachrodt 2-4, Greiner 1-3, Dean 2-5, Fuller 1-1, Miller 2-3, Rhine 1-1). Team fouls: UNI 20, Drake 16. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: UNI 39 (Maahs 11), Drake 42 (Rhine 7). Assists: UNI 16 (Howell 5), Drake 17 (Dean 5). Turnovers: UNI 13, Drake 13.

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