Wichita State women's basketball coach Jody Adams wants to prepare her team for the grind of the conference schedule by asking for more.
More concentration. More effort. Friday's 66-63 overtime win over Drake is a good start.
"Everybody on our team is committed to changing one thing about our mentality," she said. "This is where your head starts to play games on you —'I'm tired, my body is tired.' It's going to be tough."
That certainly applies today, when the Shockers (13-8, 5-5) face second-place Creighton (12-7, 7-3). The Bluejays dominated the Shockers 89-48 on Jan. 7 in Omaha.
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That started a trend of disturbing performances on the road for WSU, save a victory at Missouri State. Most disappointing were losses at then-winless Evansville and Southern Illinois last week.
"We thought our mentality was poor at Evansville, we thought it was poor at SIU," Adams said. "We were not going to have that type of mentality. Whether that's running besides someone — that's a mentality of losing. We want to run ahead of someone. We're the most athletic in the Valley, so we need to run ahead."
Friday's win — which ended an eight-game losing streak to Drake — is a start. The Shockers had lost two straight entering the game and they face first-place Illinois State on the road on Friday.
"We owed Drake a game, and we owe Creighton a game," Adams said. "We can compete with anybody."
Reversing course against Creighton must start by stopping the Bluejay shooters. They made 32 of 50 shots and outscored WSU 18-5 at the free-throw line in Omaha.
"Defense — we played zero," WSU junior Sheena Johnson said. "In this game, we've got to come out hard defensively."
Johnson did just that against Drake with a 40-minute effort. She guarded leading scorer Jordann Plummer and held her to 12 points, below her average of 15.5 and 16.2 points in MVC games.
Johnson also scored a season-high 22 points. WSU scored 20 points off 22 Drake turnovers, including five steals by Johnson.
"My defense led to my offense," she said. "My mentality of being able to run the floor and being an aggressive player defense."