Garrett Sturtz provided multiple gritty plays including a pair of free throws in the contest’s final moments as the Drake University men’s basketball team won its third consecutive game, 60-59 at the Banterra Center over Southern Illinois on Monday night.
“We didn’t expect anything less,” Sturtz said. “We knew Southern Illinois would come out firing in the second half. It just went our way today. This was a huge win. We had struggled on the road this year, but we kept our composure tonight. It was an all-around team effort.”
The Bulldogs (13-5, 4-1 in Missouri Valley Conference) won despite getting outscored 14-0 to start the second half. Sturtz converted a free throw at the 12:34 mark of the second stanza to end the run and he drilled a right wing triple on the following possession to bring the game back within one possession (41-39).
Drake later pulled ahead, and it was a battle until the final whistle. Tucker DeVries drained a 35-foot trey with 3:49 remaining for a 58-55 Bulldog advantage. Sturtz drew a foul under the basket with 23 seconds remaining and nailed his pair of free throws to put Drake back in front by a score of 60-59.
“Our guys made winning plays down the stretch,” head coach Darian DeVries said. “Sturtz made so many big-time plays- whether it was big shots, rebounds, getting loose balls or making clutch free throws. Our older guys dug in and gave us a chance.”
Drake hunkered down defensively as SIU failed to get a final shot off in time.
The Bulldogs have a quick turnaround as they are scheduled to host Bradley on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for Des Moines’ Hometown Team Week.