by Mike Kern

No. 2 seeded Drake shot 56 percent, including 66.7 percent in the second half, rolling to a 77-51 victory past top-seeded Bradley to claim the championship of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center Saturday.

The Bulldogs, avenging a 73-61 setback at Bradley last Sunday which cost them a share of the MVC regular season title, punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in school history.

Drake, winning its third straight game, improved its record to 27-7 — the second most single-season wins in school history only trailing the 2007-08 squad which went 28-5 en route to winning the school’s first MVC Tournament championship.

Sophomore forward Tucker DeVries, who was the recipient of the Doug Elgin Award as the outstanding player of the tournament, led Drake with 22 points including 13 in the second half.

Bradley, which had a 12-game winning streak snapped, fell to 25-9. Graduate guard Ja’Shon Henry led the way for Bradley for the second straight game, scoring 10 points. The 26-point margin was the largest defeat all season for the Braves.

This marked the 17th time the No. 2 seed has won the MVC tournament title and first since 2017 when No. 2 Wichita State whipped No. 1 Illinois State, 71-51

DeVries made three three-point baskets to move up to No. 3 on the school single season three-point basket list at 87. Senior forward Darnell Brodie scored 12 points and hauled in a game-high nine rebounds. Graduate guard Garrett Sturtz contributed 12 points along with two rebounds.

Graduate guard Roman Penn, also selected to the all-tournament team, added nine points along with a game-high six assists.

Senior reserve guard Sardaar Calhoun collected eight points. Drake’s bench tallied 16 points improving its record to 15-0 against MVC teams when it scores at least 10 points .

After scoring 30 points in the quarterfinals against UNI, junior all-conference forward Rienk Mast scored just six points – following his lowest scoring output of two points in a Saturday semifinal win against Indiana State. Bradley senior forward Malevy Leons, who became the first player in MVC history to have 50 steals and 50 blocks in a season, scored eight points.

Mast and Henry were both named to the all-tournament team.

Drake enjoyed a 41-21 intermission lead—the third largest halftime margin in MVC Tournament title game history. Trailing 3-2, Drake went on a 12-0 run to take a 14-3 with :21 left in the first half. The Bulldogs also added a pair of 7-0 runs in the half, the second getting Drake a 41-19 advantage with 1:17 before intermission.

Bradley narrowed the gap early in the second half to 17 points early on with a Zek Montgomery three-pointer, but never got closer. The Bulldogs shot 66.7 percent from the field (14-21) and 75 percent from long range (3-4) in the second half. The Drake defense continued to limit Bradley in the second half, holding the Braves to 40.6 percent shooting after intermission. Bradley was held to 34.5 percent shooting for the game.

MVC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Cooper Neese, Indiana State; Rienk Mast, Bradley; JaShon Henry, Bradley; Roman Penn, Drake.

Doug Elgin Award for Most Outstanding Player— Tucker DeVries, Drake



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