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Drake tops Northern Iowa, clinches MVC regular-season title

Feb 17, 2008 - 12:26 AM CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (Ticker) -- Drake bounced back from its first loss in over three months to win its first conference crown in over three decades.

Adam Emmenecker scored 13 points Saturday afternoon as 15th-ranked Drake clinched the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title with a 65-55 victory over Northern Iowa.

Four days removed from just their second loss of the season, the Bulldogs (23-2, 14-1 MVC) secured their first regular-season conference banner since the 1970-71 season.

Minutes after clinching at least a share of the crown, Drake won the MVC outright when Indiana State edged second-place Illinois State, 76-72.

The Bulldogs saw their 21-game winning streak end in disappointing fashion Wednesday with a 65-62 loss to Southern Illinois. It was Drake's first loss since a 72-66 setback at Saint Mary's on November 10.

Drake didn't look much better in the early portions of Saturday's matinee contest, facing a 29-28 halftime deficit to the defensive-minded Panthers (15-11, 7-8).

But the Bulldogs buckled down defensively after the break and were nearly flawless from the free-throw line to beat the Panthers for the fourth straight time.

Emmenecker overcame a poor shooting performance, finishing with eight assists and seven rebounds. The senior guard shot just 2-of-9 from the floor but made 9-of-10 free throws for Drake, which went 18-of-19 (95 percent) from the stripe.

Leonard Houston and Josh Young each scored 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Jared Josten scored 12 points to pace Northern Iowa, which was just 6-of-22 (27 percent) from beyond the arc and attempted only five free throws, making three.

The Panthers forged a 48-48 tie on Adam Koch's layup with just over seven minutes remaining.

But the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run, capped by Klayton Korver's 3-pointer, over the next three minutes to take the lead for good.

Drake enjoyed a 33-25 edge on the glass, parlaying that advantage into 17 second-chance points.