Despite losing its star player early in the first half, No. 2 seed Drake University fought off a late comeback to defeat No. 7 seed Illinois State University 78-62 in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) men’s basketball tournament at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis Friday night.
The Bulldogs were without senior forward Nick McGlynn for a majority of the contest. McGlynn, the 2019 MVC Defensive Player of the Year, injured his right knee with 11:12 left in the first half and didn’t return. In his absence, first-year forward Nick Robbins put up five points and grabbed five rebounds.
“We’re not sure what his status [in the semifinal game] will be,” Drake head coach Darian DeVries said after the game. “We’ll hopefully find out a little later tonight or tomorrow morning … obviously, he’s meant a lot to us. If he can’t go, we’ll have to find a way and have some guys step up similar to the way they did today.
Junior forward Tremell Murphy led Drake with a career-high 26 points while his twin brother, Anthony, set a new career high with 16. Sophomore guard Noah Thomas added 13 points to the effort.
Illinois State forward Phil Fayne scored 18 points to lead the Redbirds, who trailed by as many as 20 points. Despite pulling within as little as nine points, the Redbirds, who were picked second in the MVC preseason poll, couldn’t complete the comeback and saw their season come to an abrupt end.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t do a better job with this group,” Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said. “This program is all about the players … I’m pretty damn disappointed in myself.”
The Bulldogs next scheduled to be in action March 9 in the Arch Madness semifinal. They’ll take on the winner of the No. 3 seed Southern Illinois University vs. No. 6 seed Northern Iowa game, which is set for 8:30 p.m. tonight.