Drake erased a seven point second half deficit to post a season opening 80-70 win at Kansas State Wednesday afternoon.
Drake’s biggest lead came in the waning seconds as the Bulldogs continually held off charges from Kansas State in a game where the lead switched hands eight times with neither team holding a double-digit lead until late.
“What I was most excited about was when we got hit with the run in the second half, there were times last year when we got hit with those runs, we tended to get down on ourselves a little bit,” Drake head coach Darian DeVries said. “Our guys came out of a timeout when we were down six and they came right back at them. I thought that was huge for us from a confidence standpoint and also I think our team has grown up.”
The Bulldogs were led in the first game of the Little Apple Classic by a double-double from Garrett Sturtz who had 15 points and 10 rebounds along with a game-high four steals.
“He was tremendous,” DeVries said. “You’re talking about a guy who’s 6-3 grabbing rebounds over guys that are 6-10, 6-11. He is just so competitive and just makes winning plays.”
All 11 players that saw action scored for the Bulldogs including Tremell Murphy, who returned to action with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Shanquan Hemphill had 10 points in his Drake debut.
However, it was preseason All-MVC selection Roman Penn who may have had the biggest impact with eight assists to one turnover and nine points, all scored in the final five minutes to hold off Kansas State.
“He was dominating the game and he wasn’t even scoring,” DeVries said. “Then when he needed him to go make the play and get a couple of baskets, he just took the game over and we rode it out with him.”