For three months, the Wichita State women’s basketball team has carried around an aura of invincibility.
In the last week, that aura has vanished.
And it didn’t vanish because WSU lost on Sunday, 63-51 to Indiana State to snap a 12-game winning streak at Koch Arena, but because of the manner in which it lost.
“(The team) has got a decision to make on who they want to be and they need to make it real quick,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “We can’t walk into things without a purpose. We have to be focused and very serious about what we’re doing here.”
It was the second loss in three games for WSU, which will have to wait until Thursday at Evansville for another chance to clinch a share of its second straight Missouri Valley Conference championship.
On Sunday, the Shockers put up their worst offensive performance of the season. The 18 field goals tied a season-low, their 34 percent shooting was a season-low and the 51 points was the fewest WSU has scored this season.
“I put that on me and setting the tempo,” junior Alex Harden said. “We weren’t moving around a lot of the game and that led to a lot of forced shots and low-percentage shots at the end of the shot clock.”
After averaging 23 points the previous five games, Harden registered just her second single-digit scoring game of the season with nine points on 2 of 11 shooting.
The word is out on the Shockers that a zone defense that crowds the lane and forces outside jump shots is the best way to slow this team down. Indiana State’s 3-2 zone wasn’t the first one WSU has seen this season, but it discombobulated it better than any the Shockers have faced.
After WSU survived a 26-percent shooting half to hold a 22-21 halftime lead, that good fortune did not carry over into the second half. Indiana State dominated the first eight minutes to build a 10-point lead, eventually swelling to 17 and never dipping below eight.
“I don’t know why we didn’t come out the second half ready to go,” Adams said. “They threw a punch and they threw a big one and we did not respond at all.”
The brutal efficiency of WSU’s full-court pressure, which made it so terrifying during the peak of its 20-game winning streak, was missing.
Normally the 23 turnovers WSU forced on Sunday would provide for easy points. That wasn’t the case against the Sycamores — only six of those 23 possessions resulted in points.
“Do I think we deserved to win this game? No, not the way we played,” Adams admitted.
And while a MVC title hasn’t been squandered yet, an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament may have been.
“Are we going to be a defensive team?” senior Michelle Price said. “Are we going to be a championship team? We have to find out what our identity is.”
INDIANA STATE (15-10): Laramie 3-4 0-0 6, Abdul-Qaadif 5-13 0-0 12, Grier 7-9 3-4 22, Munn 3-8 0-0 6, Mahan 4-6 1-3 9, Small 0-1 0-0 0, Wittman 2-4 1-3 6, Franklin 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-57 5-10 63.
WICHITA STATE (22-4): Bonner 4-9 0-1 9, Jacobs 1-4 0-0 2, Harden 2-11 5-6 9, Price 5-11 6-11 16, Mi. Dapprich 4-10 3-5 11, Agnello 0-1 0-0 0, Decker 2-4 0-0 4, Chapel 0-2 0-0 0, Mo. Dapprich 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 24-23 51.
Halftime—Wichita State 22, Indiana State 21. Three-point shooting—ISU 8-16 (Grier 5-7, Abdul-Qaadir 2-4, Wittman 1-1, Laramie 0-1, Small 0-1), WSU 1-13 (Bonner 1-5, Jacobs 0-1, Harden 0-1, Decker 0-1, Mo. Dapprich 0-1, Mi. Dapprich 0-4). Rebounds—ISU 33 (Laramie 6), WSU 32 (Price 13). Assists—ISU 19 (Abdul-Qaadir 11), WSU 11 (Harden 4). Fouls—ISU 24, WSU 16. A—2,775.