MOLINE, Ill. – Top seed Drake trailed No. 2 seed UNI by 10 at the half, but managed to come from behind to win the MVC tourney title in a thriller 74-69 in overtime.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (28-4) were making their 12th tournament title-game appearance, winning their sixth championship and first since 2007. They advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time with their 28 victories matching the program record set in 1981-82.
Caitlin Ingle, the tournament MVP and the MVC's all-time assists leader, scored a career-high 22 points, with seven assists and six rebounds.
With 5.5 seconds left in regulation, Ellie Herzberg came off a screen, took a pass from Madison Weekly and hit a 3-pointer to give UNI (24-8) the lead. After a timeout, Ingle made her tying jumper from the free-throw line.
In overtime, Herzberg and Becca Jonas exchanged 3-pointers before Ingle was fouled while scoring on a drive and completed the 3-point play. Ingle added a short bank shot before Becca Hittner made a free throw for a six-point edge. Herzberg made her fifth and final 3-pointer with 23 seconds left before Drake's Lizzy Wendell capped the scoring with two free throws.
Hittner made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points, Jonas added 10 points and 11 rebounds and Wendell, who scored 34 points in a semifinal win over Wichita State, finished with 13 points.
Herzberg scored 25 points for the second-seeded Panthers with Angie Davison adding four 3-pointers in scoring 17 points with 11 rebounds. Weekly scored 10 points with seven assists and Megan Maahs had 15 rebounds.
Wendell, Weekly and Davison joined Ingle on the All-Tourney team.
Winning its 22nd straight game, a MVC record, Drake improves to 28-4 while winning the Valley Championship for the sixth time and will make the 11th NCAA appearance in school history. The win streak is No. 2 currently in NCAA Division I, trailing only UConn.
The 2,451 attendance was a record for an MVC women’s basketball tournament neutral site
Drake will find out its first round opponent on Monday, March 13 as part of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Selection Show on ESPN, beginning at 6:00 PM (CT). UNI is on the bubble and will find out if they join Drake in the dance as an at-large.
Caitlin Ingle, Drake (MVP)
Lizzy Wendell, Drake
Angie Davison, UNI
Madison Weekly, UNI
Rangie Bessard, Wichita State