Leading by four at halftime, the University of Evansville women’s basketball team’s advantage vanished, as the No. 7 seeded Drake Bulldogs used an 11-0 run to start the second stanza. While Evansville made a comeback late in the game, Drake eliminated the No. 10 seeded Lady Aces from the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament with a 52-48 final score.
Junior Taylor Ware led the Aces with 13 points, knocking down a career-best 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Samantha Heck also reached double figures, scoring all 10 her points in the first half, while also grabbing a team-high seven boards. Meagan Collins contributed nine points and six rebounds, and freshman Juliann Miller added six points and four boards.
MVC Player of the Year Rachael Hackbarth led all scorers with 15 points and nine rebounds, followed by Amber Wollschlager’s 14 points.
At the 2:26 mark in the second half, Ware’s free throw tied it up, 46-46. However, Hackbarth answered with a layup on the other end, and with 33.6 seconds remaining, Wollschlager drained her second big three of the night, giving the Bulldogs a 51-46 advantage.
With 9.6 seconds on the clock, Staci Gillum’s jumper cut the deficit to three, 51-48.
Forced to foul after Drake inbounded, Kyndal Clark made the first end of the one-and-one, and the Bulldogs pulled down the rebound on the miss of the second, securing the win for Drake.
UE won the battle of the boards, 34-30, but Drake outshot UE, 44.0% (22-50) to 35.7% (20-56) from the field.
Opening the game, Drake scored first and built as much as a three-point lead, 9-6, with 11:47 to go, before the Aces turned the tables. Evansville used a 13-2 run to take a 19-11 advantage with 5:37 remaining in the period. In the rally, Collins and Miller hit back-to-back jumpers, and Heck capped the nine unanswered points with a three and another jumper.
However, Drake stormed back with an 11-1 run of their own, regaining the lead, 22-20, at the 3:04 mark.
The lead changed hands two more times before Evansville took control for the remainder of the half when Heck completed the and-one play at the free throw line on her made scoop shot with 1:23 to go.
Drake’s Rachael Hackbarth knocked down a jumper, but Collins gave UE the last word with her drive down the middle of the lane as time nearly expired, sending the Aces into the locker room ahead, 29-25.
Out of the break, the Bulldogs scored the first 11 points, and stole the lead, 30-29, on Wollschlager’s three from the top of the arc with 18:36 remaining.
After being held scoreless through the first media timeout of the second half, the Aces finally broke the scoring drought at the 14:29 mark on Ware’s three in front of the UE bench, cutting the deficit to four, 36-32.
Liza Heap’s long three as the shot clock buzzer sounded momentarily took the wind out of the sail for UE, stretching Drake’s lead to six, 39-32. However, out of the under-12 media timeout, Collins knocked down a three of her own, UE forced a turnover, and Ware hit another three to make it a one-point game, 39-38.
DU stretched the margin back up to six following a three and jumper, back-to-back, but a jumper by Katie Ellerson and another three by Ware made it a one-point game once again, 44-43, with 7:46 remaining.
Miller’s drive from the right wing gave UE the lead for the first time in the half, 45-44, with 5:33 to go, but the Bulldogs immediately regained the advantage on the other end of the floor.
The Aces end their season with a 5-25 overall record and 2-16 mark in the MVC.