It is difficult to decipher whether physical fatigue exists in the world Jody Adams has created for the Wichita State women's basketball team.
Adams demands her players hound opponents the length of the court for all 40 minutes of the game. And when they obey, results like Thursday night's 63-41 thrashing of Drake at Koch Arena are produced.
Legs that should be worn down and bodies that ought to be exhausted aren't. Being tired isn't an option when WSU can sense the opposition recoiling.
"We see their timidness, their timidness to make a pass," said Haleigh Lankster, who orchestrates the front of the press and had four steals Thursday. "We take pride in our defense. That's our main thing, right there. We're very excited to run our (press) and get in people's grilles."
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The Missouri Valley Conference hasn't found an answer for it, thus far. WSU has won its first three games, which it has achieved only one other time (1999) in the program's 34 years.
It didn't take long for Drake to become lost. The Bulldogs' offense was so disjointed to begin the game, it went 15 possessions between scoring. The result was a 24-4 WSU lead.
Credit WSU's defense.
"If they're asking to go back in from the bench and they're asking you to turn it back up," Adams said, "you know they understand and they get it. I thought their tempo, I thought their pressure, their activeness just ate at Drake."
The lone blemish for WSU was the final eight minutes of the first half. The last 14 possessions of the half led to one basket and six turnovers, which allowed Drake to trim the Shockers' lead to 26-19 by halftime.
But once WSU started making baskets in the second half, it was able to set up its press. Drake finished with 21 turnovers, and that doesn't include the deflections and rushed shots the Shockers forced.
"We know that other teams can't handle our pressure and what we bring on defense," WSU's Alicia Sanchez said.
Drake funneled its offense through 6-foot-3 senior Rachael Hackbarth, who met her average with 19 points. But the defense of Chynna Turner, who gave up five inches, made Hackbarth's season-high eight turnovers a more important stat than her points.
"I had to be active and keep moving," Turner said. "If you feel her leaning on you, then you have to move and keep her thinking about you, instead of scoring."
WSU made 55 percent of its shots and had another balanced scoring attack. The leading scorer, Jessica Diamond, finished with 13 points and WSU had two others (Jazimen Gordon, Turner) in double-digits.
The six-game winning streak is WSU's longest since 2000, when it won 10 conference games in a row.
That team is regarded as the best in WSU history. But Adams has different flashbacks when thinking of this team.
"I've had one team like this and they were a championship team," Adams said, referring to her 2007-08 Murray State team that reached the NCAA Tournament. "And now I have a team that reminds of them finally. It's there. This is their journey. I'm just here to be a part of it and help guide them and mentor them through it."
DRAKE (7-6, 1-1): Hackbarth 8-12 3-5 19, Running 0-4 0-0 0, Clark 2-9 1-2 5, Reid 1-4 0-0 2, McSparron 0-5 0-0 0, Grenfell 0-1 0-0 0, Marschner 0-2 1-2 1, Montgomery 1-1 0-0 2, Wollschlager 5-7 1-2 12, Lutes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-46 6-11 41.
WICHITA STATE (9-5, 3-0): Turner 4-9 3-4 11, Gordon 6-9 0-1 12, Sanchez 3-3 0-0 6, Diamond 5-8 2-2 13, Lankster 2-8 2-2 6, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Henderson 0-0 0-0 0, O'Brien 0-0 0-0 0, Jacobs 2-3 1-2 5, Harden 2-3 2-2 6, Wells 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-47 10-13 63.
Halftime—Wichita State 26, Drake 19. 3 pt. shooting—Drake 1-8 (Wollschlager 1-3, Grenfell 0-1, Marschner 0-1, Clark 0-3); WSU 1-2 (Diamond 1-2). Rebounds—Drake 29 (Hackbarth, Running 5); WSU 26 (Turner 6). Assists—Drake 9 (McSparron 3); WSU 15 (Diamond 4). Fouls—Drake 11; WSU 14. A—1,397.