- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Drake saw what it hopes to become as a basketball team. The Bulldogs just had to take a beating to fully appreciate it.

Fifth-ranked Wichita State strolled into a near full house at Drake’s Knapp Center and rolled past the Bulldogs 78-61 on Saturday night. Cleanthony Early scored 19 points and Ron Baker added 14 for the Shockers (21-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who outrebounded Drake 34-20 and locked down on the Bulldogs defensively in the second half.

“That team is extremely tough-minded,” Drake coach Ray Giacoletti said. “Each possession offensively and defensively, they control their destiny. They don’t splinter ever. We were not able to make them splinter.

“To me, one through 10, it’s a mirror of what we want to look like down the road.”

For now, though, Giacoletti has to deal with the present and his team simply could not match up against the longer, more talented Shockers, who limited Drake to four field goals in the first 14½ minutes of the second half.

And almost everything the Bulldogs got was from the perimeter. The Shockers outscored Drake 32-10 in the paint.

“It’s just their tough-mindedness defensively,” Giacoletti said. “That’s something that’s really hard to have within a team of 10 or 12. We’re going to try to build on that.”

Nick Wiggins had 11 points for Wichita State, which fended off Drake throughout the first half before outscoring the Bulldogs 28-15 at the start of the second to take control.

Aaron Hawley scored 16 points to lead Drake (11-9, 2-6), which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Chris Caird added 15 and Jordan Daniels 12.

Leading scorer Richard Carter was held to five shots and six points.

“We came into the game with no pressure on us,” Hawley said. “The crowd was great. We just came out a little flat in the second half. For whatever reason, I felt we lost our energy a little bit.”

The Bulldogs had their moments against the Valley’s top team. But they, like nearly everyone else in the league, couldn’t stop the Shockers from imposing their will.

Baker answered a Drake 3 with a three-point play through traffic with 15:45 left - and that kicked off a pair of spurts that overwhelmed the Bulldogs.

Chadrack Lufile scored inside, and Tekele Cotton’s floater put the Shockers ahead 52-35 with just more than 13 minutes left. Early then soared through the paint to flush down an errant shot, and Wiggins’ three-point play capped an 11-0 run that made it 65-44.

Wichita State next hosts Loyola and Evansville ahead of what could be its toughest test of the regular season - at 16-4 Indiana State on Feb. 5.

It’s been six years since Drake caught the nation’s attention with a stunning surge to the Valley championship, the program’s first in 37 seasons, and it’s been a struggle for the Bulldogs to return to that level.

Drake started the season 10-3 and whipped Evansville 94-66 in its league opener before succumbing to the heart of its Valley schedule.

But the Bulldogs did their best to push the Shockers early.

They hit nine of their first 16 shots to stay as close as 30-26. But Baker found Cotton for a left-handed alley-oop that sent Wichita State into the break with a 37-29 lead.

Cotton then opened the second half with another dunk and the Shockers were on their way to their eighth road win.

“We weren’t playing great defense in the first half, they were just missing shots,” Caird said. “They turned it around in the second half. They started making shots and I think they fed off that.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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