UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – If the Wichita State women’s basketball team is to become the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win as a No. 14 seed, it won’t be because of an overhaul in strategy to compensate playing a BCS program.
The Shockers will attempt to replicate the style that produced a 26-6 season, a second straight Missouri Valley Conference championship, and an average margin of victory greater than 20 points.
Coach Jody Adams says third-seeded Penn State, Big Ten champions for the third consecutive season, will receive no special treatment on Sunday when the teams play at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2.
“There’s mismatches for them and there’s mismatches for us,” Adams said. “It’s their system versus ours. It’s two different systems. We’re just going to have to play a great game, there’s no doubt about that.”
The biggest challenge will be finding a way to at least limit the scoring of Maggie Lucas, the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year who averages 21.4 points.
Wichita State will likely rotate defenders on the 5-foot-10 Lucas, but Alex Harden (5-11) is expected to match up against her to begin the game. WSU might entertain possibilities with Jamillah Bonner (5-8) and Kelsey Jacobs (6-2) guarding her.
Adams is not so much concerned with how many points Lucas scores, but the quality of her shots.
While Lucas does average 21 points, she does so in an inefficient manner from the field (39.6 percent on nearly 17 shots per game).
“She’s going to take her shots,” Adams said. “It’s just going to come down to us making her take tough twos and tough threes.”
It also means the Shockers will play their maniacal brand of defense in the full court, a zone trap that can’t match 14th-ranked Penn State in height but could cause problems with its length.
Once again, WSU will be at a severe height disadvantage. Senior Michelle Price, the team’s lone post presence, stands at 6-1.
Penn State has a bevy of posts that begin at 6-2 and go up to as tall as 6-6.
“We are going to play our defense, our style and let it run its course,” Adams said.
Adams feels WSU can legitimately challenge Penn State when it’s playing defense, but how long WSU stays competitive will be determined by the efficiency of its offense.
“We’ve got to be smart with our shot selection and take the best shots for each person that’s a high-percentage shot for them,” Adams said. “We’ve got to make Penn State work on defense. And I think this team understands that. These guys are hungry.”