VERMILION, S.D. – In a hard fought first round Women’s National Invitation game, the Drake Bulldogs fell to the South Dakota Coyotes, 61-53 in front of 1,361 fans at the DakotaDome on Thursday night.
Senior Rachael Hackbarth led the Bulldogs (18-16) with 16 points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds to give her 26 double-doubles, which leads the nation. Fellow senior Amber Wollschlager playing in her home state for the first time in her collegiate career scored 15 points and pulled down four rebounds.
Amber Hegge led the Coyotes with 20 points and finished 9-of-15 from the field to help South Dakota improve to 23-7. Annie Roche added 15 points and Tempestt Wilson had 13 points. The Coyotes will face Colorado in the second round of the WNIT on Monday night.
Hackbarth and Wollschlager provided veteran leadership in the first half for the Bulldogs. Each of the seniors scored eight points and Hackbarth grabbed five rebounds to help Drake build a 30-27 halftime lead.
Hackbarth’s strong drives to the basket forced Summit League Defensive Player of the Year Jodie Boss to pick up three fouls and take a seat on the bench going into the break. South Dakota’s Hegge led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the opening half.
The Bulldogs went to Hackbarth early to start the second half and the senior’s layup at the 18:52 mark pushed their lead to 32-28. Playing after a two-week layoff due to not being eligible for their postseason conference tournament in their transition to Division I, the Coyotes took the lead on a 7-0 run, the last points on a Hegge jumper, 35-32.
Hackbarth ended the run with another layup and Morgan Reid added another to give the lead back to the Bulldogs, 36-35 but it would be the final lead for the Bulldogs.
South Dakota held the Bulldogs scoreless for just over the next four minutes and used a 10-0 run to storm ahead, 45-36 before Kyndal Clark stopped the run with a three-pointer. The teams traded points over the next few minutes and Reid’s jumper with 6:42 cut the South Dakota lead to 47-45. The Coyotes used a 4-0 run to get back in front by six but Wollschlager’s jumper with 2:10 left in the game still gave the Bulldogs a chance down 54-50.
After a 30-second timeout by Drake, Wilson made a layup to push the lead to 56-50 with 1:49 left in the game. Drake tried to extend the game with quick fouls on the Coyotes but South Dakota made six free throws to close the game out and give them their first WNIT win.
Drake finished 9-of-10 from the free throw line and out-rebounded the Coyotes, 35-31.
Hackbarth and Wollschlager the team’s two captains end their Bulldog’ careers with 125 and 124 games played, respectively. Hackbarth finishes her career in tenth place on the all-time Drake list with 1,661 points. She started the season in 21st place with 1,019 points.
The Bulldogs will return eight players in 2012-13 as Hackbarth, Wollschlager and Alexis Montgomery have exhausted their eligibility. Clark, a freshman who was named to all-MVC team scored 11 points against South Dakota.
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