Drake (12-10, 3-7 MVC) made just 10 second half field goals and went 9:34 into the second half before hitting from the field to create what proved to be an insurmountable deficit despite a career-high 13 points from Trevor Berkeley (Tucker, Ga.) and 11 rebounds from Jacob Enevold Jensen (Lunderskov, Denmark).
Illinois State (12-10, 5-5 MVC) came into the game as shooting just 39.8 percent from the field but found its stroke to the tune of a 55.1 percent clip including a 58.3 showing from the three-point arc in the second half. The Redbirds also converted on a season-high 12 three-pointers including five from Nick Zeisloft who finished with 15 points. Bobby Hunter led all scorers with 19 points and four assists.
“We’ll get better as we go along with this program, but right now, we’re struggling defensively,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “Both with man and zone. Take your hat off to Illinois State. If Nick [Zeisloft] didn’t prove to us that he could shoot it in Des Moines, he proved it tonight.”
The Redbirds closed the first half with a Zeisloft three-pointer and added six straight points after halftime to take a 14-point, 49-35, lead just 2:18 into the second half. The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the second half with a pair of free throws from Berkeley at the 14:39 mark but it would be another four minutes before the team hit a field goal against Illinois State’s zone.
“When you play 40 minutes of zone, teams don’t ever face that. It’s hard to get into a rhythm for 40 minutes,” Giacoletti said. “In the first half I thought we were adequate against it and in the second half it took us five-and-a-half minutes to score.”
Despite that drought, Illinois State only led by 15, 57-42, at that point but thanks to three more three-pointers over the next four minutes that lead quickly ballooned to a game-high 24 points, 72-48, with 6:27 left in the game.
“We’ll continue to try to get better and we have eight games to do it,” Giacoletti said. “Matchups in basketball, as you go along, are unique and for us, Illinois State is a bad matchup for us.”
The Bulldogs continue that process on Tuesday evening when they host Southern Illinois to wrap up the season series with the Salukis. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. In the first meeting on Jan. 22, the Bulldogs prevailed with a 57-54 win in Carbondale, Ill.