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Drake pulls away from Eagles for win

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Drake’s Ajay Calvin scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and the Bulldogs pitched a shutout in the final 2:11 to defeat Georgia Southern 87-75 Saturday night in the championship of the Drake Regency Challenge in Des Moines.
    The Eagles (5-3) received 18 points from senior Donte Gennie and 15 from junior Dwayne Foreman.  They were joined in double-figures by junior Louis Graham who had 14.
    Josh Young contributed 19 points to Drake’s (5-2) cause.  Young and Calvin were named to the All-Tournament team, with Calvin earning Most Outstanding Player honors.
    Drake’s defensive pressure forced Georgia Southern into 17 turnovers and caused GSU to call a couple of timeouts.
    “Our biggest problem was getting the ball inbounds,” said GSU head coach Jeff Price.  “Once we got it in I thought our guards handled (the pressure) pretty well.  We had to get past that first wave.  But beyond that we were pretty good offensively — we shot 52 percent.”
    A lay-up by senior Jimmy Tobias at the 18:10 mark of the second half made the score 46-45 in favor of Drake, but Young answered immediately with a 3-pointer to kick the lead back up to four, a cushion the Bulldogs held for the next four minutes before stretching it to nine on a trey by Klayton Korver and a dunk from Calvin.
    The Eagles managed to cut the deficit to four several times, the last on a jumper by Tobias with 8:33 remaining in the contest.  But five straight points from Drake expanded the advantage back to nine (73-64) with 6:49 left and reached 10 on two free throws from Korver.
    Graham cut the lead down to eight with a lay-up, but Korver answered again with a trifecta and the closest Georgia Southern would get the rest of the way was nine points.
    Drake won the battle of the boards 37-34, and grabbed 14 on the offensive end which led to 17 points.
    “Their second-chance shots absolutely killed us,” Price added.  “You can’t give up on the road 14 offensive rebounds.  Before the game we said the two most important things were transition defense and rebounding.  And they really beat us at that.”
    The Eagles relied on the quartet of Foreman, Gennie, Graham and freshman Antoine Johnson for their production in the first half.  The group combined for all but five of GSU’s points, led by Graham and Foreman who had nine each.
    Georgia Southern shot 53.3 percent from the floor in the first half, but Drake, who shot 71.4 percent in the first half of last night’s game vs. Troy, wasn’t far behind, hitting 47.1 percent.
    The Eagles return to Statesboro for just their second home contest of the season, a battle with Flagler College Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.

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