Houston, Drake keep streak alive with comeback winFeb 6, 2008 - 7:50 AM NORMAL, Illinois (Ticker) -- Drake is making second-half comebacks a staple of its outstanding season.
Leonard Houston led the way with 22 points as the 15th-ranked Bulldogs overcame a poor first half to post a 73-70 win over Illinois State in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup on Tuesday.
Josh Young scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half and Adam Emmenecker chipped in eight of his 14 after the break for Drake (21-1, 12-0 MVC), which pushed its winning streak to 20 games, the second-longest streak in Division I behind Memphis.
"We have not, honestly, talked about it in the locker room once," Illinois State coach Keno Davis said of the Missouri Valley title chase and the winning streak to the Des Moines Register. "We have not talked about what place we're in. We haven't talked about a how-many-game lead we have. We have not talked about our winning streak."
For the fifth time in the last seven games, the Bulldogs found themselves behind at the half and found a way to win. Tuesday marked the second time in that span that Drake accomplished the feat against the Redbirds.
"A lot of people around the country keep saying, 'Drake's not that good. They just keep finding ways to win,'" Davis said to the newspaper. "Well, that's what great teams do. They find ways to win."
Illinois State (16-7, 8-4) jumped out to a 38-29 advantage at the break on the strength of 16-of-28 (57 percent) shooting in the first 20 minutes. Osiris Eldridge led the way with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Houston kept the Bulldogs in the game with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting in the first half.
But the second half quickly turned in favor of Drake, as Houston nailed a 3-pointer on his team's first possesion. Young broke out of his shooting slump next, sinking three free throws before nailing back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 46-41 with 14:01 to play.
"They were getting their hands up and challenging every shot I would get," Young said to the newspaper. "I just came in the locker room (at halftime) and said my team needs me. It's time for me to step up."
"You can't guard a guy from 35 feet," Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich said about Young to the Register. "He was shooting as deep as you'll ever see, and making them."
Young and Houston scored six points each during a 12-4 run that gave Drake its first lead of the game, 53-52, on Houston's layup with 10:16 remaining.
The Bulldogs pushed the advantage to 57-52 when Klayton Korver and Emmenecker hit back-to-back baskets with 9:09 left.
The Redbirds battled back and cut the lead to one point on two different occasions, including 71-70 on Dom Johnson's layup with 18 seconds remaining.
But Jonathan Cox and Jacob Baryenbruch each split a pair of free throws to clinch the win.
"They're always coming," Redbirds center Levi Dyer said to the Register. "They may fall a little bit, but then they're going to come back and hit you again."
Johnson led the way with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Eldridge ended with 16 for Illinois State, which has lost four of its last six games.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
DRAKE (15) 29 44 73
ILLINOIS ST 38 32 70 FINAL
Feb 5 10:01 PM
- NCAA BB
(15) DRAKE 29
ILLINOIS ST 38 HALFTIME
Feb 5 9:11 PM
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