Puk Scores a Career-High 16 Points in 71-63 Loss at Drake
DES MOINES, IOWA- Senior center John Puk scored a career-high 16 points in his Iowa homecoming on Monday night, but it wasn’t enough in a 71-63 loss at Drake.
“We came out to a slow start, so we fought an uphill battle,” said Puk. “It’s nice to come home and get to play in front of my friends and family, and I really appreciated having everyone there. It was a great experience; I just wish we could’ve gotten the win. We gave ourselves a chance and put ourselves in a position to win at the end. A couple of plays just didn’t go our way.”
Sam Rowley scored the first basket on his way to 10 first-half points. The Great Danes went cold from the field for the next four minutes (1-for-7, .143).
John Puk made the most of his homecoming early on, getting UAlbany out of its scoring drought with two baseline jumpers. The Purple & Gold went 4-for-4 from the floor for the next four minutes.
Both teams dipped into a full-court zone press for much of the first half, with UAlbany having the turnover advantage 8-6 at the break.
Rowley and Puk took advantage of their quickness off the dribble in the first half, with 10 and six points, respectively. The Bulldogs responded by going 5-for-10 from the three-point line.
DJ Evans cut Drake’s lead to five (27-22), with a steal and a lay-in with 3:35 left. Drake went on a nearly five-minute scoring drought mid-way through the opening 20 minutes.
Rowley led the team with 10 points at the half, while Puk led the on the glass with six boards. Ten Great Danes saw time in the opening period.
Rowley picked up two quick fouls to open the second half, just as the Purple & Gold had the deficit down to two points, 35-33. UAlbany gave up a three and another basket before back-to-back threes from Peter Hooley and Mike Rowley put UAlbany within three (42-39) with 12:54 left.
Rowley committed his fourth foul at the 11:20 mark, but Drake also had several players in foul trouble. Starting center Seth VanDeest, Chris Caird and Daddy Ugbede all had three fouls with 8:20 left.
Puk kept the score close, scoring 10 of his career-high 16 points in the second half. The senior center scored 10 points or more in consecutive games for the first time in his career. He had 13 against Yale on Friday night.
Drake began turning the ball over mid-way through the second half. The full-court zone press of UAlbany resulted in two Bulldog turnovers with eight minutes left.
The Great Danes received the window they were looking for after a Drake technical. Evans had just cut the lead to six for the Bulldogs, and two free throw makes by Hooley brought UAlbany within four. Evans hit a three on the ensuing possession to make the score 60-59 with 4:12 left.
Drake responded by going 3-for-5 from the field and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach for UAlbany.
Drake and UAlbany had the same number of defensive rebounds in the game, but the Bulldogs posted a 10-4 advantage on the offensive glass.
Four UAlbany players scored in double figures, including Puk (16), Evans (14), Rowley (12) and Hooley (11). Puk led UAlbany on the glass with seven rebounds. Hooley also had five assists, while Rowley and Evans had three apiece.
The Great Danes (6-6) wrap up their nonconference schedule at Pittsburgh (11-1) on Dec 31 at 1 p.m. The game will be available on ESPN3.