Drake outlasts Abilene Christian in overtime, 80-73
Arogundade’s career high 25 lifts Drake in OT
DES MOINES — At the end of regulation in Monday’s Collegeinsider.com Tournament first round between the Drake men’s basketball team and Abilene Christian, things were all knotted up at 69 points apiece.
The Wildcats scored first in overtime, carrying the momentum they earned on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of regulation to force the extra period, but the Bulldogs responded with an 11-2 run in the last 4:19 of overtime to close out an 80-73 win that sent a packed Knapp Center into a frenzy.
Drake head coach Niko Medved, who reached the postseason in just his first year on the job, said the way his guys allowed Abilene Christian to tie it up wasn’t great, but the way they closed things out in overtime was.
“It was a calamity of everything. Turnovers, we missed a free throw in that stretch, couldn’t come up with a rebound most of the second half,” Medved said. “You have to give that team credit, they really came in and played hard. They battled us physically and we knew that they would so you have to give them a lot of credit, but I give our guys a lot of credit too for not folding in that situation because that’s difficult.”
It was a tight game the whole way, as the score was tied at halftime at 28-all and neither team led by more than 11 throughout. In games like that teams typically turn to their top scorer for some much-needed points, but Drake leading scorer Reed Timmer had an unusually off night.
Timmer finished the game just 1-for-13 from the floor and 0-for-8 from behind the 3-point line, but when the Bulldogs (17-16) needed it most a different senior stepped up for the game of his life.
Ore Arogundade, who was averaging 6.9 points per game heading into the contest, turned in a career-high 25 points while shooting a lights-out 8-for-10 from the field, including a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown.
Arogundade, winner of the MVP trophy for the Lou Henson Classic, said he couldn’t take total credit for his performance against the Wildcats because it was Medved who jump started the senior’s big game.
“I give credit to coach, he really motivated me this weekend,” Arogundade said with a smile while patting Medved at the press table next to him. “I had a good mindset coming into the game and I just picked my spots and I felt aggressive.”
Medved said early on it was clear Arogundade was in for a big game, so they adjusted the game plan accordingly.
“He started to get it going and the team started saying ‘hey, let’s get an action going,’ so we ran a couple actions for him that we run for other guys too, so it was nice that the other guys wanted to get Ore going and we got him a couple of shots and it always looks good when they go in,” Medved said. “To his credit, his teammates wanted to get him going and he had the hot hand tonight, and boy we needed it.”
Another Bulldog who stepped up while Timmer was having an off game was Nick McGlynn, who finished with a full stat line of 22 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, two assists and one steal with no turnovers. McGlynn was especially effective in the latter portions of the game, putting in 17 of his 22 points in the the second half and overtime with five of those coming in the extra frame.
“It was nice to see Nick McGlynn get going a little bit in the second half because we needed all of that,” Medved said. “Ore stepped up and made some plays and McGlynn got it going in the second half so that’s a testament to these guys.”
C.J. Rivers didn’t have as much luck scoring for the Bulldogs as he finished with just two points but he did lead the team in rebounds with 10. De’Ante McMurray and Jalen Gibbs each had eight points to help the Drake scoring effort, while Timmer and Casey Schlatter each finished with six.
The Wildcats (16-16) had four players in double figures with Jalone Friday leading the way with 16 points, followed by Jaren Lewis and Tevin Foster with 13 each and B.J. Maxwell with 10.
Where Abilene Christian was most effective was on the glass. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Bulldogs 54-40 leading to 22 second-chance points for ACU, and Medved said that can’t happen again moving forward in the CIT.
“Obviously I did not like the way we rebounded the ball at all,” he said. “They out-hustle us on the glass and were more physical, but we missed a lot of shots today, especially in the first half except for Ore.”
What Drake was able to do was quell the runs that Abilene Christian made. Even in the first half, the Wildcats went on two 5-0 runs to start the game but the Bulldogs battled back on both of them and flipped things in their favor.
“There was one period in the first half where I thought we looked frustrated, we thought we were going to get it going but we couldn’t really get it going and we missed some good looks and they made a run,” he said. “I thought we came out at halftime and played hard, so I think our guys showed that they wanted to play here.”
At this time of year all eyes are turned toward the NCAA Tournament, and of course Drake wanted to be there as well but Arogundade said the team is happy to be where it is fighting for a championship of their own.
“To play in front of our home crowd like that, that was amazing and getting that win after three-straight losses is refreshing,” Arogundade said. “We are here and we are looking to make a deep run in this thing.”
With the win Drake will be continuing on in their postseason run, though with the way the CIT is set their opponent and date of play has not been announced quite yet. Not knowing who your opponent is can be a coaching nightmare because you aren’t sure how to prepare, but Medved said at this time of year generally the foot is taken off the gas pedal a bit in practice, though they don’t want to completely decelerate just yet.
“You have to practice clearly and for as small as we are we have been a pretty good rebounding team on the defensive glass but the last two times out that has really cost us so we have to do something that way,” Medved said. “We clearly have to practice some but this time of year it’s shorter, a lot of it is walk-through and getting up a lot of shots, making sure we stay sharp.”
Arogundade said it doesn’t matter who the next opponent is, however, because the Bulldogs will be ready.
“It’s fun when you’re winning so why not keep going? We just want to take every team with the same mentality and we are going to prepare the same,” he said. “We know that every team is going to give us their best effort because at the end of the day they are playing for a championship and so we will be ready.”
DRAKE 80, ABILENE CHRISTIAN 73, OT
At Des Moines
ABILENE CHRISTIAN (16-16) — Friday 7-16 0-0 16, Franklin 2-4 0-0 4, Green 1-4 0-0 3, Foster 6-19 0-0 13, Lewis 6-17 1-1 13, Howell 3-11 0-0 6, Kohl 0-1 0-0 0, Ricks 3-5 0-0 8, Lenox 0-0 0-0 0, Maxwell 4-9 2-2 10. TOTALS 32-86 3-3 73.
DRAKE (17-16) — McGlynn 7-14 8-11 22, McMurray 3-9 2-2 8, Rivers 0-1 2-2 2, Timmer 1-13 4-6 6, Arogundade 8-10 5-5 25, Schlatter 2-3 2-2 6, Kuenstling 0-0 0-0 0, Gibbs 3-6 1-1 8, Thomas 0-4 0-0 0, Woodward 1-5 0-0 3. TOTALS 25-65 24-29 80.
Halftime–28-28. End Of Regulation–Tied at 69. 3-Point Goals–Abilene Christian 6-31 (Ricks 2-2, Friday 2-9, Green 1-2, Foster 1-8, Franklin 0-1, Maxwell 0-2, Howell 0-3, Lewis 0-4), Drake 6-25 (Arogundade 4-4, Woodward 1-2, Gibbs 1-3, McGlynn 0-2, Thomas 0-2, McMurray 0-4, Timmer 0-8). Fouled Out–Friday. Rebounds–Abilene Christian 48 (Lewis 13), Drake 34 (Rivers 10). Assists–Abilene Christian 14 (Foster 4), Drake 12 (Rivers 4). Total Fouls–Abilene Christian 23, Drake 12. A–3,565 (7,152).