Illinois State comeback claims Bulldogs, 67-62

DES MOINES DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell had a career-high game for Illinois State and led his team on a second-half comeback against Drake on Sunday, 67-62.

Akoon-Purcell put up 28 points on the Bulldogs (5-9, 0-2 MVC), shooting 13-21 from the field. Reed Timmer led the Bulldogs with 16 points, shooting 6-11 from the field.

The Bulldogs led Illinois State (8-7, 2-0 MVC) at halftime, a 32-22 margin. But Illinois State took advantage of the Bulldogs’ nine turnovers, scoring 12 points off Drake’s forfeits, giving it the win late in the game.

Just two Bulldogs had double figures: Timmer and Graham Woodward, who had 15 points. Three Illinois State players had double figures: Akoon-Purcell with his 28, Paris Lee with 15 and Deontae Hawkins with 12.

“The biggest difference today is we were able to get off to a good start and dictate that first half,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “We talked about how important it was to get off to a good start in the second half and they [ISU] were able to get off to the good start. They got some energy and some confidence and we had a fight on our hands. I thought our group did a good job at taking our run then, and it became a game of possessions. You’ve got to be able to make the stops, and we could not find a way.”

Drake was held to just 47 percent shooting for the game, but still outscored the Salukis who shot 43 percent in that category.

Kale Abrahamson led the Bulldogs in the rebounding category with eight.

Giacoletti said confidence in late games will be crucial if the Bulldogs expect to pull out victories.

“When something breaks down, tlak and make a play and get stops,” Giacoletti said. “We have not been able to do that. The crucial stops down the stretch we couldn’t do it and that’s how you win close games.”

The Bulldogs will return home to play host to Indiana State on Jan. 6. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.