The Drake University women’s basketball team opened the game on a 12-0 scoring run to race past Sacred Heart University, 95-59, in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday night at the Knapp Center.
Drake (23-9) sophomore Maddy Dean (Jordan, Minn.) nailed a long three-pointer just fifty seconds with an assist from junior Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.). Wendell then followed with a layup off an assist from junior Caitlin Ingle (Runnells, Iowa), who nabbed the first of 10 team steals and hit Wendell with a perfect pass. Wendell then made another three-pointer off another assist from Ingle, who finished with a game-high 12, and Dean and Wendell each had baskets in the initial scoring run before Sacred Heart scored its first points 4:30 into the game.
Wendell was the leading scorer for Drake with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting while freshman Sara Rhine (Eldon, Mo.) scored 15 points and Dean had 14 points. Senior Emma Donahue (Naperville, Ill.) and freshman Nicole Miller (Walker, Iowa) were the other Bulldogs to reach double-figure points with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Sacred Heart (20-13) from Fairfield, Conn., and members of of the American East Conference was led by Adaysha Williams’ 15 points while Cleo Polyzou had 11 points and Hannah Kimmel scored 10 points.
Drake never trailed in its first WNIT win since 2008 when the Bulldogs beat Green Bay in the first round. On Thursday night, all nine Bulldogs scored at least three points and handed out at least one assist. Drake made 36-of-63 shots from the floor, including making 12-of-28 from behind the three-point line, while dishing out 29 assists.
Drake led by as many 38 points late in the game in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Bulldogs forced 21 turnovers by the Pioneers and scored 35 points off the miscues. Drake’s bench scored 38 points.
The opening round win sets up a rematch in the second round with in-state rival and fellow MVC member, UNI, on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.