Saturday’s box score
Texas A&M 71, WSU 45
Percentages: FG .327, FT .750.
3-Point Goals: 3-17, .176 (Dapprich 2-6, Fountaine 1-5, Harden 0-1, Wells 0-1, Turner 0-1, Diamond 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Jacobs 2, Harden).
Turnovers: 12 (Turner 4, Jacobs 3, Diamond 2, Price 2, Harden).
Steals: 6 (Price 2, Dapprich 2, Harden, Diamond).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .473, FT .889.
3-Point Goals: 3-10, .300 (Williams 1-1, Scott 1-1, Pratcher 1-4, Jones 0-1, Little 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 7.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Bellock 2, Williams).
Turnovers: 12 (Bellock 5, Little 2, Jones, Williams, Pratcher, Bone, Gilbert).
Steals: 4 (Jones 2, Walker, Bone).
Technical Fouls: None.
A—7,215. Officials—Michael McConnell, Cheryl Flores, Randy Campbell.
A Bone to pick
Wichita State’s Michelle Price and Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone had met long before Saturday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game.
The two were teammates as 11-year-olds on a Houston AAU basketball team. They remained teammates through middle school, until going their separate ways in high school.
They haven’t kept in close touch before Saturday’s tussle in the low post, but the two still consider themselves good friends.
“I love Michelle,” Bone said. “We spent so much time on road trips and in hotel rooms growing up. Even though we were opponents for 40 minutes, I was really proud and excited to see her out there succeeding.”
Price was what made WSU’s double-team strategy on Bone work in the first half, holding the star scoreless and without a shot for the first 20 minutes. On the other end, Price responded with one of her best games of her career with a team-high 12 points.
Although Bone has gone on for more acclaim in college, Price won the head-to-head battle with 12 points to Bones’ 10 on Saturday.
“I just wanted to leave a good impression,” Price said. “I wanted to prove that I was still the same player I was back when A&M recruited me. Being back home, I wanted to play my best and keep representing where I’m from.”
A senior farewell
Jessica Diamond, Jazimen Gordon and Chynna Turner, the team’s three four-year seniors, kept their emotions mostly in check after the game.
“The fact that it’s over hasn’t really sunk in,” Diamond said. “The loss has sunk in and that’s a little heartbreaking. But we know what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve brought this team to.”
Paying homage to the three trailblazers was the only thing the underclassmen were interested in talking about after the game. They were the ones that built WSU into what it has become — a conference champion.
“They’re the reason why we got here,” sophomore Kelsey Jacobs said. “They brought us all the way from the bottom to here in the NCAA Tournament and we’ll never forget them.”
For Adams, it was an emotional ending because the group is the first four-year class recruited by Adams to pass through WSU.
“Those kids mean everything to me,” she said. “I’ll always appreciate them and what they did for us here at Wichita State.”
Ask Adams who the MVP of the non-conference season was and it’s likely she name Jacobs.
But an ankle injury in a win over Drake on Jan. 21 derailed Jacobs’ season, limiting her to 12 minutes per game in the last 15 games.
Jacobs re-emerged on Saturday, playing 24 minutes, the most since Jan. 12, scoring four points and blocking two shots.
“It felt great because that was me getting back to how I’m supposed to play,” Jacobs said. “I know I can play like that every game. I’m excited to get going again next year already.”
The mid-major challenge
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair wasn’t surprised to see how well the Shockers played for the majority of the first half. But then again, he wasn’t surprised to see his Aggies’ size, speed and strength take over.
“When you play 20 games against mid-level teams, you forget what it’s like to play the K-State’s and the LSU’s,” Blair said. “That’s the hardest thing about being at a mid-level school to do.”
WSU senior Jessica Diamond could confirm as much.
“They don’t guard like that in the Valley,” Diamond said. “We don’t really see that type of pressure during the season, so we definitely had to adjust to that.”
Future is bright
WSU graduates six seniors, but more than half of the 200 minutes of experience gained in the NCAA Tournament game returns.
The foundation for next season will be Alex Harden, Michelle Price, Michaela Dapprich and Kelsey Jacobs.
“That’s your future right there at Wichita State,” Adams said. “And the way they played in this game (Saturday), it makes me smile.”
The experience of preparing and playing in a game of that magnitude was something not lost on the returners.
“We know how it feels now,” Harden said. “We know what it’s like to go through the hype, through the buildup of whoever we’re playing. We know what to do now.”
— Taylor Eldridge