The Wichita State women's basketball team's 64-49 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday night counted as its fourth win, but maybe more valuable was the lesson it taught.
It's becoming almost customary for the Shockers to build a big lead early, only to watch that lead disappear in the second half. It happened again against the Broncos.
Santa Clara (0-6) used all of its energy during a 16-4 run in the second half to chisel the Shockers' lead from 15 down to three, before scoring just two more points in the next 10 minutes.
And if a winless Santa Clara team can roll off a run like that against WSU, what could a Missouri Valley Conference foe do?
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"A 10-point swing like that, in the Valley, will go to a 30-point swing," WSU head coach Jody Adams said.
That figure isn't exact, but the point is clear: The Shockers (4-2) must improve before Valley play starts on Dec. 31.
"This team is trying to figure some things out and one is consistency," Adams said. "With a young team you're going to see some ups and downs. But once we enter the Valley, we cannot afford the swings that we are seeing during our games."
In the first half, WSU drilled five three-pointers in a three-minute span to open a 23-7 lead.
"It's all about rhythm and coming into it and seeing what the defense gives me," said Morgan Boyd, who hit three three-pointers and finished with 16 points. "If they're in the paint, I can knock that shot down and make them come out."
WSU used a 13-4 run for a 37-20 halftime advantage.
The Shockers used a press extensively against the Broncos, forcing them into a season-high 24 turnovers.
"Our ball pressure was really good," WSU guard Heather Robben said. "Having the pressure on ball helps because it lets other people get out in the passing lanes and that's how you get steals."
But WSU started slow in the second half as Santa Clara grinded away. It wasn't until two Haleigh Lankster baskets that WSU snapped out of it.
"I just wanted to be aggressive and get to the rim," Lankster said. "If I wasn't going to score, I was at least going to get to the free throw line and that was my mission."
The Shockers were outrebounded by 10 — 36-26 — and their five post players combined for just eight points and nine rebounds.
At point guard, freshman BreAnna Dawkins got the start, but had eight turnovers. Jessica Diamond had seven assists, but was 3-for-9 shooting.
"I can preach on it as much as I want, but our upperclassmen have to demand those things to not happen," Adams said. "It's time for them to step up."
SANTA CLARA (0-6): Gipson 5-10 2-3 12, Fulps 5-11 1-2 14, Radanovich 1-6 4-4 7, Shoji 0-5 0-0 0, Armstrong 4-8 0-0 10, Anderson 0-2 0-2 0, Willinsky 1-3 0-0 2, Leo 1-4 2-4 4, Scott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 9-15 49.
WICHITA STATE (4-2): Turner 2-5 0-0 4, Price 1-3 0-0 2, Gordon 1-1 0-0 2, Robben 2-5 2-2 7, Dawkins 1-1 0-0 2, Boyd 6-13 1-2 16, Sanchez 1-3 0-0 2, Diamond 3-9 1-2 8, Jacobs 0-2 0-0 0, Lankster 7-9 4-5 21, Bryant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-51 8-11 64.
Halftime—Wichita St. 37, Santa Clara 20. 3 pt. shooting—SCU 6-16 (Fulps 3-7, Armstrong 2-4, Radanovich 1-3, Shoji 0-2); WSU 8-20 (Lankster 3-5, Boyd 3-6, Diamond 1-2, Robben 1-3, Sanchez 0-2). Rebounds—SCU 36 (Gipson 12); WSU 26 (Boyd 11). Assists—SCU 13 (Fulps, Radanovich 3); WSU 16 (Diamond 7). A—1,458.