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Wichita State women beat Evansville

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, at 9:48 p.m.

This one felt more like a scrimmage than a crucial game in the race for the Missouri Valley Conference title.

No more than 200 brave souls who ventured through a foot of snow to Koch Arena were there to witness the Wichita State women’s basketball team defeat Evansville 68-49 on Thursday night.

When the Shockers trotted onto the court for their final pre-game warm-ups, the players knew what they would have to do to move to 12-2 and remain one game up on Creighton in the standings with four left in Valley play.

“We talked about it during the warm-ups and we understood there’s not as many people as there usually is, so we had to create our own energy,” senior Jessica Diamond said.

Wichita State fell victim to circumstances to begin the game, missing six of eight shots and turning the ball over four times to dig an 18-7 hole.

Then Alex Harden happened.

After coach Jody Adams called a timeout to challenge Harden, the sophomore responded with 10 points during a 23-6 run to claim a 34-26 halftime lead.

“We had a small conversation and we decided to change,” Adams said grinning. “She needed to be more aggressive and she wasn’t being aggressive.”

Harden showed why that aggression is so key to her performance, scoring a career-high 23 points mostly off of lay-ups from her four steals. She added nine rebounds, four assists and a block.

Harden excelled defensively, guarding all five spots on the court at different points. One possession saw her start out on Evansville’s best post, 6-foot-2 Samantha Heck, then switch to its 5-foot-6 point guard Laura Friday and ended in an Evansville turnover.

“I saw that we were down and I knew I could help,” Harden said of what flipped her switch. “I knew I had to bring my energy and my tempo.”

A snow day probably sounded more appealing to the Purple Aces, who shot 37 percent and were out-rebounded 37-28.

This time slowing the game into a half-court affair did not work for the Purple Aces, who played WSU to a 49-45 loss in the first meeting.

The Shockers made nearly half their shots, 30 of 63, and all nine players scored. The Shockers had key contributions from Michaela Dapprich (8 points), Darice Fountaine (8 points) and Michelle Price (7 points, 8 rebounds) in out-scoring Evansville’s bench 31-1.

“We began to settle down in the half court and that’s where people are going to put us in the second half,” Adams said. “That’s February, that’s where everybody is being put.”

Even if hardly anyone was there to witness it, Wichita State was able to take a step closer to its first conference championship.

“There could be no one in the stands and I’m still going to be intense and have the same expectations,” Adams said.

EVANSVILLE (8-16, 6-7): Ware 3-9 0-0 6, Ladd 1-5 4-4 6, Heck 8-9 1-2 17, Taylor 2-7 2-2 7, Friday 3-10 5-6 12, Falkenstein 0-1 1-2 1, Prough 0-1 0-0 0, Collins 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-46 13-16 49.

WICHITA STATE (18-8, 12-2): Jones 1-6 0-0 2, Diamond 4-11 0-0 8, Harden 10-11 3-3 23, Turner 1-2 0-0 2, Gordon 1-3 0-0 2, Jacobs 1-4 1-4 3, Dapprich 4-9 0-0 8, Fountaine 3-8 0-0 8, Wells 2-3 1-2 5, Price 3-6 1-1 7. Totals 30-63 6-10 68.

Halftime—Wichita St. 34, Evansville 26. 3 pt. shooting—Evansville 2-15 (Taylor 1-2, Friday 1-5, Ware 0-1, Heck 0-1, Falkenstein 0-1, Collins 0-2, Ladd 0-3), Wichita St. 2-9 (Fountaine 2-4, Dapprich 0-2, Diamond 0-3). Rebounds—Evansville 28 (Ladd 7), Wichita St. 37 (Harden 9). Assists—Evansville 10 (Heck, Friday 3), Wichita St. 17 (Harden, Turner 4). Fouls—Evansville 12, Wichita St. 15. A—988.

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