Drake punches NCAA ticket with OT win
MOLINE, Ill. — At this point in the season, Drake Coach Jennie Baranczyk admits that the Bulldogs haven’t been running on “Plan A,” especially this weekend.
The Bulldogs had to rely on a different scheme to force extra time on Sunday.
Drake’s Caitlin Ingle made a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer in regulation to force overtime, and there, the Bulldogs outscored Northern Iowa 11-6 in the extra frame to clinch a spot in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with a 74-69 win.
“You don’t win championships on Plan A, and I don’t know what letter we’re on right now,” the Drake coach said. “It’s not at the beginning of the alphabet. They’ve just constantly adjusted.”
These two teams played in a double-overtime game on Jan, 27. Drake won that game, 88-79.
Drake and UNI traded leads 14 times and the score was tied eight times in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game.
Drake was down 63-61 with 13 seconds after Manson native Ellie Herzberg hit a 3-pointer on UNI’s final possession of regulation. Herzberg came around off a screen, and Madison Weekly found Herzberg.
“Ellie hit a huge shot, and it was a difficult shot,” Weekly said. “They came down, and we did everything we could on the defensive end. Ingle hit a very difficult shot.”
Herzberg made five 3s in the loss, and led UNI with 25 points.
After Drake had called timeout, the Bulldogs advanced it to in front of their bench. Ingle took the ball out and immediately found Sammie Bachrodt.
Bachrodt handed the ball off to Ingle, who played her high school ball at Southeast Polk. Ingle dribbled to as close to the elbow as she could, put up a shot over 6-foot-1 freshman Megan Maahs.
But, that wasn’t the original plan that Drake wanted out of the timeout.
“The play we drew up wasn’t the play that we run,” Ingle said. “They did a good job taking away all the options, and I saw the time clicking down. I knew I had to get a shot off, and I’m just happy it went in. I knew if we could get it to overtime, we’d be OK.”
The original play was to get Lizzy Wendell the ball.
“It was a baseline drive for Lizzy on the drift,” Ingle said. “They did a good job of hedging the screens. I saw (Maahs) back off and I had enough room to get a shot off.”
Ingle scored five points in OT.
Ingle, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player with a 22-point performance on Sunday, scored eight of the Bulldogs’ 15 fourth-quarter points.
Ingle’s first fourth-quarter basket came with 8:29 remaining that tied the game at 50. Her last three buckets, including the one that sent it to OT, came in the final four minutes.
The Bulldogs’ first two games of the tournament has consisted of slow starts. On Friday and Saturday, Illinois State and Wichita State each had a halftime lead against Drake.
“We haven’t had great first halves here, and that’s kind of an understatement,” Baranczyk said. “UNI is a great team, and we should have two teams in the NCAA Tournament from this league. I strongly believe that. The third quarter in the last three days have been phenomenal.”
Sunday, UNI fell victim to a raging Drake team in the third quarter.
UNI held a 39-29 lead, but that lead evaporated in a span of 6 minutes, 56 seconds. Becca Hittner led off the rally with a 3-pointer, and the game-tying basket came from Lizzy Wendell.
The Panthers got that big lead by taking advantage of the glass.
UNI outscored the Bulldogs 13-0 in second-chance points, and the Panthers had 15 more rebounds at halftime than their opponent.
Maahs had eight rebounds in the first half.
“There’s no question in my mind that we should be in the tournament,” UNI Coach Tanya Warren said. “You look at our strength of schedule, our RPI and look at the fact that we have two top-25 wins.”