Rhine, Hittner lead Drake’s rout of Illinois State women

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sara Rhine was nearly perfect, Becca Hittner scored 23 points and No. 22 Drake clinched at least a share of its third straight Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship, defeating Illinois State 88-61 on Thursday night.

Rhine had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. She opened the game with an assist on a 3-pointer by Maddie Monahan and kept doing things right. She made 7 of 9 shots, including a season-high 3-for-3 from 3-point distance, and made all four of her free throws.

The Bulldogs (24-5, 16-1 MVC) are one game ahead of Missouri State (14-2) with one game to play. Bradley visits Drake on Saturday when the Bulldogs will go for their ninth regular-season MVC title.

Monahan had 12 points and three assists for Drake. Hittner added five assists and she and Monahan were both 5-of-5 from the free-throw line as the Bulldogs made 19 of 21. It wasn’t just free throws that kept falling as Drake shot 60 percent overall and 54 percent (7 of 13) from 3-point range to go with the 91 percent from the line. Drake had 22 assists on 31 made baskets.

Tete Maggett scored 16 points and Simone Goods added 15 for the Redbirds (17-11, 10-7). Illinois State shot 32 percent overall.

Drake scored 52 points in the second half after already leading by 15 at halftime, 36-21.