DES MOINES (DU) — Seth VanDeest led Drake for the second straight game with 19 points to help the Drake men’s basketball team edge North Carolina Central, 72-69, Wednesday evening at the Knapp Center.
During the final eight minutes, neither team led by more than four points as the Bulldogs (5-5) and Eagles (5-6) went basket-for-basket before Ben Simons hit a three pointer with 2:47 left in the game to put Drake up, 66-65. Simons finished with 16 points and four three-pointers.
NCCU answered with a free throw to briefly tie the game before the Bulldogs went to VanDeest for back-to-back layups in the paint to take a four-point, 70-66, lead with 47 seconds left. The junior from Bettendorf, Iowa, was 6-of-9 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
“I think a big objective for us is getting the ball in to Seth,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said of the final minutes. “We don’t do a great job of looking for him for 40 minutes. The goal is to make sure he gets a look and we’re getting better at that.”
The Eagles didn’t succumb to the 4-0 Drake run as Stanton Kidd drained a three-pointer on NCCU’s next possession to finish with a game-high 23 points. Out of a Drake timeout, Richard Carter was fouled and calmly drained both shots to give Drake a three-point, 72-69, cushion with 11 seconds left. Carter scored 13 points with five assists on the evening.
“He did a terrific job, he had an assist on an under-the-basket play and hit two big free throws,” Phelps said of Carter’s game. “I thought his defensive intensity really picked up in the second half and was a big part of us being better on defense in the second half.”
Drake remains at home to host Eastern Illinois on Saturday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center in the first meeting between the two programs.