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.
The Redbirds, who lost the regular-season matchups by 18 and 27 points, were down 47-40 going into the fourth but cut the deficit to four near the midway point. Sammie Bachrodt and Nicole Miller hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 10-point game and after Lexi Wallen made a layup for ISU, Hittner hit two 3s and it was 63-49 with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Despite shooting just 36 percent overall with 16 turnovers, Drake went 10 of 25 from 3-point range and 19 of 24 from the foul line.
Illinois State shot just 29 percent, going 7 of 22 from distance.
Tete Maggett hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for the Redbirds. Simone Goods, who averages 17.4 points, was held to two as she only played 15 minutes due to foul trouble.