Drake University surged past Illinois State University in the second half to win the opening game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament 75-65.
The Bulldogs held a 38-36 halftime lead, but outscored Illinois State 37-29 after the break to secure the victory.
The Redbirds went on a 14-1 run midway through the second half to cut their deficit to 56-52 with 6:49 remaining, but the Bulldogs pulled away at the end.
“I thought it was a great effort by our guys tonight,” Drake head coach Darian DeVries said. “It was great to see them playing a little loose and free. … It was nice to see us get it opened up on the offensive end. I thought defensively, the second half, [Illinois State] played a tremendous half and really took some of the things that they like to do away.”
Drake sophomore forward Liam Robbins finished with a game-high 18 points with five rebounds. As a team, Drake shot 52.1 percent from the floor, while Illinois State connected on 38.9 percent of its shots.
The Bulldogs advance to the next round, where they are scheduled to face the University of Northern Iowa March 6 at noon on MVC TV Network.