MOLINE, Ill. — Becca Hittner, the two-time Missouri Valley player of the year, scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half to propel No. 21 Drake into the conference tournament championship game with a 65-54 win over fourth-seeded Illinois State on Saturday.
Sara Rhine added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs (27-5), who take a 12-game winning streak into the title game they have won the past two years. Drake faces second-seeded Missouri State on Sunday.
Drake led most of the first quarter but Illinois State (19-12) led throughout the second quarter before the half ended tied at 26. The Redbirds built a six-point with less than four minutes to go in the third when the Bulldogs put together a 14-0 run in less than three minutes. Most of the damage came at the foul line as Drake was 8 of 10.
Tete Maggett hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for the Redbirds.
No. 24 RICE 69, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 54
FRISCO, Texas — Nancy Mulkey scored 24 points and No. 24 Rice rallied in the second half to defeat Middle Tennessee 69-54 in the Conference USA championship game for the Owls’ third NCAA Tournament berth and school-record 21st straight win.
Erica Ogwumike, the C-USA player of the year, added 15 points despite dealing with foul trouble. Jasmine Smith and Nicole Iademarco had 10 points apiece for the Owls (28-3), who tied Quinnipiac for the second-longest winning streak in the country behind Baylor (23).
Mulkey, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Oklahoma, was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after blocking eight shots to give her a school record 89 for the season.
In putting together just the league’s third unbeaten season, Rice won 60-47 at Middle Tennessee.
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