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Abrahamson’s 41 points leads Drake men’s basketball over WKU, 81-79

Courtesy Drake Athletics
Courtesy Drake Athletics
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Drake University men’s basketball team used 41 points from Kale Abrahamson (West Des Moines, Iowa) and overtime to earn an 81-79 win over WKU in the Bulldogs’ opening game of the Gulf Coast Challenge at Fort Myers’ Germain Arena.

Abrahamson’s career night was the seventh-highest total in school history and the most since the 1980-81 season in addition to setting a Gulf Coast Showcase scoring record.

“I was just getting to the basket in the first half and that’s on my teammates,” Abrahamson said. “They were spreading the floor and letting me get to the basket.”

The redshirt-junior’s total came via 13-of-23 shooting and a 4-of-10 night from behind the three-point arc with 11 free throws.

“The great thing about Kale tonight was he was more than just a jump shooter,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “He got to the free-throw line 11 times. To me that’s a huge piece of the puzzle because he can drive people and be a tough matchup. His game is starting to evolve.”

Drake also got 18 points from Graham Woodward (Edina, Minn.) on 7-of-13 shooting and four three-pointers, none bigger than a three-pointer on the Bulldogs’ first possession of overtime.

“I’m so happy for these guys, it wasn’t easy the last 48 hours after losing to UMKC,” Giacoletti said. “Tonight in overtime, I looked at the bench and I saw a different look in their eyes than we saw at Tulane. They continue to work hard and believe and it’s good for them to get a win.”

Following Woodward’s three-pointer to open the extra period a three-point play from Reed Timmer (New Berlin, Wis.) gave the Bulldogs a four-point cushion. Back-to-back three-pointers from WKU gave the Hilltoppers the lead back until Abrahamson added his final bucket of the night to hand the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish with a minute left.

Drake trailed for most of the first half, including a 12-point deficit, before trimming the margin to eight, 40-32, at halftime. Abrahamson scored 17 of his points in the first half.

The Bulldogs used the first 13 minutes of the second half to methodically trim that deficit until an Abrahamson three-point play tied the game at 58-58. The lead would change hands four times the remainder of the period with a pair of ties. With two minutes left in regulation, a pair of Abrahamson free-throws gave Drake a three-point, 68-65, lead. An empty possession by each team followed, but WKU’s Nigel Snipes drained a three-pointer with 1:20 left to tie the game at 68-68.

“They hit three bombs to end regulation and that’s a really good basketball,” Giacoletti said. “They’ve got two teams it seems to me. When your leading scorer and top shooter come off the bench, that’s impressive.”

Snipes finished the game with 15 points off the bench while Justin Johnson also added 15 for the Hilltoppers. Snipes attempted a game winner with 16 seconds left, but was off the mark. Drake followed with an attempt of its own, but Abrahamson’s shot caromed around the rim before falling out to force overtime.

With Monday’s win, the Bulldogs advance to face Weber State Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. CST.

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