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This week in the Missouri Valley Conference: Illinois State puts 7-game winning streak on the line against Drake

Plus, looking at Southern Illinois and Missouri State’s own winning streaks, and Loyola and Valparaiso face each other in their first conference game today.

Sammie Bachrodt reached the career 1,000-point mark in the Bulldogs’ MVC-opening win against Bradley on Friday, Jan. 4.
Courtesy of Drake women’s basketball

For the first time in the young Missouri Valley Conference season, all ten teams will be in action this afternoon. Drake — now on a 43-game MVC winning streak, including tournament games — is clearly the team to beat, but a handful of other teams have shown early signs that they could challenge the defending champions this season.

Beset by consecutive losses to South Dakota State and in-state rivals Iowa State and Iowa to finish out 2018, Drake reminded the MVC exactly why they’re the defending champions in their Friday opener as they throttled Bradley 92-63. Following up her career-high 32 points in the Bulldogs’ loss to Iowa, junior guard Becca Hittner led Drake once more with 26 points, while senior guard Sammie Bachrodt’s 11 points were just enough to hit the career 1,000-point mark.

The Bulldogs, who haven’t lost a conference game since 2016, play at Illinois State this afternoon to take on a Redbirds squad that’s on a conference-high seven-game winning streak, including a close MVC-opening victory against Northern Iowa that saw junior guard TeTe Maggett score a career-high 29 points.

In other notable streaks, Southern Illinois has won five in a row, while Missouri State has won four in a row, both including their opening conference games. Both have the opportunity to extend these streaks until at least next Sunday, when they play one other.

Southern Illinois’ streak began with key wins over in-state foes Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois in the Compass Challenge and includes their MVC-opening win over Evansville. Five games is their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season and their 6-0 home start is their best since 1993-94. The Salukis put their recent run of success on the line today against Indiana State.

In today’s game against Evansville, Missouri State will try to cancel out the five-game losing streak that came immediately before their string of victories. Their most encouraging games in that initial period were a pair of close losses to West Coast Conference schools, including a three-point loss to then-No. 21 Gonzaga. Since then, the Bears have gone 2-0 in the Roo Holiday Classic and beaten Indiana State in their MVC opener.

The only two teams to not have played MVC games yet, Loyola (Chicago) and Valparaiso, open against each other this afternoon. After a tough slate of non-conference games, including against then-No. 20 DePaul, the Ramblers of Loyola are looking to turn things around a three-game losing streak. Valpo, meanwhile, will try to keep the momentum going after closing out non-conference play Monday with a win over IU Northwest.

Sunday’s MVC games

Valparaiso Crusaders (4-8, 0-0) vs. Loyola Ramblers (6-5, 0-0)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Gentile Arena, Chicago, IL

How to watch: ESPN3

Indiana State Sycamores (6-6, 0-1) vs. Southern Illinois Salukis (8-4, 1-0)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: SIU Arena, Carbondale, IL

How to watch: ESPN+

Evansville Purple Aces (2-10, 0-1) vs. Missouri State Bears (5-7, 1-0)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: JQH Arena, Springfield, MO

How to watch: ESPN3

Drake Bulldogs (9-4, 1-0) vs. Illinois State Redbirds (8-4, 1-0)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Redbird Arena, Normal, IL

How to watch: ESPN+

Northern Iowa Panthers (7-6, 0-1) vs. Bradley Braves (10-2, 0-1)

When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Renaissance Coliseum, Peoria, IL

How to watch: ESPN3

Elsewhere in the MVC:

  • Illinois State junior guard (and junior college transfer) TeTe Maggett swept both the MVC Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week awards. As part of her career-high scoring performance, Maggett went 10-10 from the free throw line and 2-2 from three.
  • Drake now has four 1,000-point scorers on its current roster. Senior guard Sammie Bachrodt became the second Bulldog this season to reach the milestone on Jan. 4, while junior guard Becca Hittner did so on Nov. 28. Redshirt senior guard Maddy Dean and redshirt junior forward Sara Rhine are also members of the 1,000-point club, and the next-closest MVC player to the milestone is Bulldog redshirt senior forward Becca Jonas, who now sits at 883 points (but who hasn’t played since Dec. 8).

MVC schedule and results