MVC Women's basketball tournament. Southern Illinois vs Drake.

Southern Illinois forward Nicole Martin shoots over Drake's Sara Rhine at last season's Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinal at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline.

ST. LOUIS – Drake's women's basketball team clinched its ninth Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in program history Saturday with a 95-63 home win over Bradley.

The No. 22/23 Bulldogs (25-5, 17-1 MVC) earned the No. 1 seed at this weekend's MVC tournament in Moline. Drake became the first team since Missouri State to win three straight outright titles when the Lady Bears won six straight from 1991-96. Missouri State (20-9, 16-2 MVC) and UNI (19-11, 12-6 MVC) are the second and third seeds, respectively. The Lady Bears have won six of seven heading into the tournament. Illinois State (18-11, 11-7 MVC) and Bradley (20-9, 10-8 MVC) earned the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.

SIU (15-14, 8-10 MVC), the sixth seed at the tournament, opens against Northern Iowa Friday night at 8:30.

This year's tournament - the 12th neutral-site event in the conference's history - begins on Thursday, March 14, at TaxSlayer Center in Moline, Illinois. The top seed has won the conference tournament in 19 of 33 seasons and a team that has won or shared the regular-season title has gone on to win the tournament title 22 times. Top seeds have five runner-up finishes. Teams seeded No. 2 have won the tournament four times and finished as the runner-up 12 times.

The tournament, which features nine games over four days, culminates on Sunday, March 17, with the title game airing live on The Valley on ESPN at 2:00 p.m. Both semifinals on Saturday, all four quarterfinals on Friday and the two opening-round games on Thursday will also be available live on The Valley on ESPN.

Missouri State has won the most MVC tournament titles, 10, of any Valley school, its last coming in 2016. Drake has claimed seven tournament titles and will look for a third straight championship.

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On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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