Loyola Chicago beats Drake, returns to NCAA Tournament

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 19 Drake at Loyola Chicago
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ST. LOUIS – Lucas Williamson had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Aher Uguak added 16 points and 10 boards and Loyola Chicago defeated Drake 64-58 on Sunday to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.

Ryan Schwieger added 13 points for the fourth-seeded Ramblers (25-7) who came through against the Bulldogs in a rugged championship game after losing twice in the regular season to Drake (24-10).

Loyola, headed to the Atlantic 10 next season, beat Drake in last year’s title game 75-65 but this season’s victory came under first-head head coach Drew Valentine.

Roman Penn scored 18 points and MVC freshman of the year Tucker DeVries had 15 points and a career-high five blocks for Drake. ShanQuan Hamphill had 10 boards to go with six points.

Neither team reach 40% shooting and both were 25% or less from the arc in a game in which both teams had a player foul out and two others with four fouls. Loyola made 17 of 24 from the line to 11 of 18 for Drake which made up partially for the Bulldogs’ 23-6 advantage on points off turnovers.

Trailing the entire half, Drake got within two twice in the final couple of minutes, the last time with 22 seconds remaining after two Penn free throws. But Drake was forced to foul and Schwieger and Braden Norris converted two free throws each.

Drake, which beat Missouri State 79-78 in overtime in Saturday’s semifinals, had a seven-game win streak snapped.

Drake opened the game outscoring Loyola 18-8 with DeVries capping the run with a 3-pointer, the last of his 10 first-half points, while the Ramblers started 2-of-13 shooting.

Then the game took a complete turn with Drake missing its next five shots, going 2 of 14 and committing four turnovers as five Ramblers combined for 19 answered points and a nine-point lead after a Norris 3-pointer.

The Bulldogs recovered in the final two minutes to score the final seven points to trail 27-25 at halftime.

Uguak had a three-point play and a layup during a four-minute stretch when the Ramblers edged out to a nine-point lead, their largest of the second half, with 4 1/2 minutes to go. Part of that scoring came while Drake was missing eight straight shots over six minutes.

It’s the first time since 1962-63 that the Ramblers have reached the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.

Evan Mobley scores 17 points to lift Southern Cal past Drake

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INDIANAPOLIS – Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 6 seed Southern California used smothering defense to earn a 72-56 victory over Drake on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Mobley, a 7-foot freshman forward and AP second-team All-American expected to be a lottery pick if he declares for the draft, made 7 of 15 field goals and blocked three shots.

Evan’s older brother, sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley, scored 15 points to make it a family affair for the Trojans.

“We both had great games, I feel like,” Evan Mobley said. “Both pretty big numbers. We’re going to cherish this win, but we can’t dwell on it too long because we’ve got other games coming up.”

Drew Peterson added 14 for USC (23-7), which advanced to play No. 3 seed Kansas in the second round on Monday.

Joseph Yesufu scored 26 points for 11th-seeded Drake, but none of his teammates scored more than six. The sophomore guard made 8 of 22 shots in the game while his teammates made just 12 of 46.

Drake (26-5) opened the season with 18 straight wins. The Bulldogs claimed their first tournament win in 50 years in the First Four on Thursday, but that extra game had an effect. Drake shot 29% overall against USC, including a dismal 19% in the second half.

“We certainly got fatigued in that second half a little bit, but I thought the guys continued to fight, and we just didn’t have quite enough to get back into it,” Drake coach Darian DeVries said.

Yesufu struggled like his teammates in the second half – he made just 2 of 10 shots after the break. Evan Mobley was in the middle of USC’s zone for the final 10 minutes of the game.

“We assumed he was going to be their main scorer, but we really didn’t lock in on him the entire possession (in the first half),” Evan Mobley said. “And then second half was when we were pointing and talking, and letting our teammates know where he was at, so he couldn’t score as much.”

The game had plenty of excitement but the enthusiasm in the socially distanced crowd often didn’t match the intensity on the court. Drake had the bigger cheering section, but it was silenced in the second half as the Trojans pulled away. USC’s group of a few hundred fans stood and clapped for the team as it left the floor after the game.

Yesufu scored 14 points in the first nine minutes to help Drake stay even. USC led 40-37 at the break behind 13 points and eight rebounds from Evan Mobley.

The Trojans held Drake to one field goal in the first six minutes of the second half to take control. Evan Mobley scored in close to push USC’s lead to 51-40.

Yesufu tried to keep the Bulldogs in it. His 3-pointer cut USC’s lead to 57-50 and led the Trojans to call a timeout.

Peterson came out of the timeout with a 3-pointer for USC, then Tahj Eddy made a three to push the advantage out to 13.

“I thought our guys showed a lot of defensive toughness, especially in the second half to pull this win out, and we’re happy to go on to the next round,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.

LATE BLOOMER

Yesufu was averaging single digits this season before closing on an eight-game tear during which he averaged 23.6 points per contest. The sophomore guard scored 36 and 32 in two games against Evansville and scored 21 in the First Four win over Wichita State.

STAT STUFFER

Drake guard Garrett Sturtz finished with five points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

“He left it all out there,” DeVries said. “He was trying to make every winning play he could in that second half to keep us in it.”

QUOTABLE

DeVries: “We don’t mind wearing the masks. We’d have love to have worn them for another week here if we could have. But from our standpoint, we’re just thankful that we got here and got this chance to play.”

USC-KANSAS HISTORY

USC is 5-11 all-time against Kansas and has lost the past seven meetings with the Jayhawks in a skid that began in 1981. The teams have met just once in the NCAA Tournament, with Kansas beating USC 43-32 in 1940. USC’s last win was an 89-83 overtime victory in 1979, closing a run in which the Trojans won five of six meetings.

Drake tops Wichita State for first NCAA win in 50 years

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Joseph Yesufu scored 21 points and Drake beat Wichita State 53-52 on Thursday night in the First Four, the Bulldogs’ first NCAA Tournament win in a half-century.

Drake’s last tournament victory had been 50 years ago to the day — March 18, 1971, against Notre Dame.

“To get a win for our program that hasn’t happened in 50 years – it’s really exciting,” Bulldogs coach Darian DeVries said. “These guys have fought through so much, and for them to be the ones to get us one, I think is really deserving.”

The Bulldogs were hardly overmatched in this year’s tournament field – they came in with 25 wins, second most of the 68 teams behind top overall seed Gonzaga, and their tense matchup with a longtime Missouri Valley Conference rival brought some early drama to the pandemic-affected tourney.

Wichita State’s Dexter Dennis made a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining to trim Drake’s lead to a point. The Bulldogs got the ball in to Yesufu, who was fouled. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Shockers a chance, but Wichita State’s Alterique Gilbert settled for a long 3-pointer that hit the front rim as time expired.

“Perseverance,” Yesufu said. “We’ve been doing that all year.”

The win was extra validation for DeVries, who was rewarded this week with a contract extension through 2028-29.

Tremell Murphy added 11 points for 11th-seeded Drake (26-4), which advanced to play sixth-seeded Southern California in the West Region on Saturday.

Morris Udeze scored a career-high 22 points and Dennis added 13 for Wichita State (16-6), which made just 11 of 22 free throws.

It was the 152nd meeting between the former MVC rivals. Wichita State left for the American Athletic Conference in 2017. Both mid-major powers were given at-large bids into the NCAA field, and their matchup was dominated by defense – Drake shot 38% while Wichita State shot 34%.

The Shockers reached the NCAA Tournament after an offseason of turmoil. Seven players left the program, and longtime coach Gregg Marshall resigned before the season amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse. Isaac Brown was promoted to interim coach. Wichita State removed Brown’s interim tag last month as the Shockers won eight straight late in the season before closing with a one-point loss to Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament.

“I went to the locker room and I didn’t even talk about the game,” Brown said. “I said, `Man, I’m so proud of you guys. You guys were picked seventh. You won the AAC.’ … Great effort. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

Drake missed 10 straight shots as Wichita State built an early 18-6 lead.

The Bulldogs rallied. Yesufu threw down a nasty one-handed dunk over Clarence Jackson on a fast break and then hit a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left in the first half to trim the Shockers’ lead to 21-20. Wichita State was scoreless for the last five minutes of the half.

Drake tied the game in the opening minute of the second half on a 3-point play by Darnell Brodie. Wichita State responded with a 9-0 run that included five points from Udeze.

Drake again recovered. Brodie’s reverse layup put the Bulldogs up 46-45 with just over four minutes to play.

“We kept letting them hang around,” Brown said.

SHUT DOWN

Tyson Etienne, Wichita State’s leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to one point on 0-for-6 shooting. He was in foul trouble much of the night and played 27 minutes.

“They did a good job of staying with him,” Brown said. “He missed a couple shots. We didn’t do a good job of getting him open.”

MORE DEPTH

ShanQuan Hemphill, Drake’s leading scorer, came in off the bench after having missed more than a month with a broken left foot. The senior forward from Michigan City, Indiana, finished with three points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

STAT LINE

Brodie, a 6-foot-10, 275-pound forward, finished with nine points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.

UP NEXT

USC star Evan Mobley awaits the Bulldogs in Saturday’s first-round matchup. The 7-foot freshman became the first player to be named the Pac-12’s player of the year, defensive player of the year and freshman of the year in the same season.