The Wichita State women's basketball team is starting to grow accustomed to firsts in the program.
They have been the first to win 12 home games in a season, sweep a Missouri Valley Conference opponent during the regular season, and are on the verge of finishing with fewer turnovers than their opponents for the first time since 2002-03.
If the Shockers are to advance past their quarterfinal game in the MVC Tournament in St. Charles, Mo., tonight, they will have to achieve another first against Missouri State —be the first team in WSU's history to beat a team three times in a season.
"The firsts say a lot about the talent here and the greatness that is to come here at WSU," coach Jody Adams said. "That's a tribute to this team believing, for trusting, for taking pride in wanting to win and want to accomplish something at WSU that hasn't been done before."
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To do it against the third-seeded team in the Valley seems improbable for the sixth-seeded Shockers, but the team matches up well against the offensive-minded Bears.
The Shockers won an overtime shootout in Springfield, but they held Missouri State to 65 points in a February win.
"Our approach against MSU is defense, defense, defense," sophomore Haleigh Lankster said. "That's what we live by. That's how we got them last time, so we'll focus on that."
Adams says the only thing the team can take away from the regular-season sweep is "momentum and confidence," which is what the Shockers will have to funnel in the opening minutes.
The Shockers won one game away from Koch Arena during conference play, largely because of poor starts.
"We just have to figure out how to relax and how to take care of the details on offense," Adams said. "We've got to be ready to make the big plays, whether that's offensively or defensively."
For that to happen, WSU will have to add to its list of firsts. It's a role the Shockers are comfortable in.
"I think it means a lot," junior Sheena Johnson said. "To do something different that this school has never had before. It's an honor for us."