The University of Evansville’s women’s basketball team walked into the Ford Center on Thursday with an eight-game losing streak and left sitting atop the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Aces (3-9, 1-0 MVC) notched their first win since Nov. 17 by a 68-62 score against a Drake team they hadn’t beaten since 2008, leading the Bulldogs by as many as 13 points.
“Our motto is 1-0, and we’re just going to keep sticking to that,” said sophomore Mallory Ladd.
The Memorial graduate and Valparaiso transfer Ladd scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds, her third straight double-double since becoming eligible at the end of the first semester,
“That was pretty nerve-wracking being my first home game, but I was able to settle in and do what I’ve always done — the basics,” she said.
Ladd joined three players in double figures as senior Samantha Heck scored 15 points, senior Taylor Ware chipped in a season-high 14 and sophomore Khristian Hart added 10.
Evansville trailed just once in the game, at 3-0, before back-to-back 3-pointers by Ware and freshman Laura Friday gave the Aces the lead for good.
So went the Evansville’s losing skid: eight losses, six of which came against teams with winning records.
“All of our goals with this group have been conference goals,” said Evansville coach Oties Epps. “Your nonconference is great and you want to do well, but your nonconference should prepare you to be successful.”
Sophomore Kyndal Clark led Drake (5-7, 0-1 MVC) with 17 points as the Bulldogs saw a two-game winning streak come to an end.
After the Aces drew out to an 11-point lead in the second half, Drake pulled to within a point before a solid night at the free throw line — 14 of 17, with eight of those from Ladd — sealed the win in Evansville’s MVC opener.
“That’s what we’re trying to do — be MVC champs,” Ware said. “We got this win today, and now we’ve got to go in and prepare tomorrow for Creighton.”
The Aces continue MVC play against the preseason favorite Bluejays at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Ford Center.