Alie Decker saw the packed-in zone defenses that were practically begging the Wichita State women’s basketball team to fire away from the outside.
It tore at Decker, who was sidelined for the first eight games of the season with a knee injury, because she knew her steady shot from the corners could be used.
Her wishes were answered on Friday afternoon, as she knocked down two three-pointers, scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds to help the Shockers past Northern Colorado 51-35 in front of 10,307 spectators, the third largest attendance in WSU women’s history — bolstered by busloads of schoolchildren from the area.
For a team that sometimes looks lost on offense, Decker became the lighthouse in the corner.
“That’s what I get in the gym and do every day,” Decker said of the shot. “That is my role.”
It was another typical offensive performance from the core of the team. They weren’t hitting shots (WSU finished shooting 33.9 percent for the game) and the offense was stagnant.
Even against an out-matched Northern Colorado squad, Wichita State had 10 points to show for itself after the first 16 minutes of the game. Not even a seven-minute stretch between field goals in the first half could sink the Shockers because Northern Colorado was just as vulnerable.
Decker’s first three of the game injected the first signs of life in the WSU offense. The jolt came from another unlikely source, Darice Fountaine, who played a combined two minutes the past five games.
But there was Fountaine, looking like her absence never happened while hitting back-to-back long shots to put WSU up 19-16 just before half.
“When our teammates trust us and they have confidence in us and we knock it down, then it just opens up the entire floor,” said Fountaine, a Kapaun Mount Carmel graduate. “Teams packed it in the paint because they know we’re not a very good shooting team, so we need to come off the bench and open the floor up.”
For the season, Wichita State is making under a quarter of its three-pointers (20 for 83). Decker and Fountaine can become valuable commodities to the Shockers if they can play at the consistency that coach Jody Adams strives for.
“It’s their role to knock down shots for us,” Adams said. “If they’re not shooting, they’re coming out and they know that. It’s just a rule.”
The game was tied at 31 with 13 minutes remaining when WSU shook loose from Northern Colorado. Back-to-back steals by Jasmine Jones led to easy run-outs to ignite an 11-0 game-clinching run by the Shockers.
Wichita State improved to 4-5 on the season without a single scorer in double-digits, but a significant stride was made.
“We love to see (Fountaine and Decker) do that,” sophomore Kelsey Jacobs said. “It gets you fired up when they’re hitting like that because you see them in the gym every day knocking down those shots.”
Halftime—Wichita State 20, Northern Colorado 19. 3 pt. shooting—Northern Colorado 1-9 (Duehn 1-2, Strange 0-1, Lee 0-1, Hiser 0-2, Timm 0-3), Wichita State 3-14 (Decker 2-6, Fountaine 1-2, Jones 0-1, Dapprich 0-1, Diamond 0-1, Harden 0-1, Turner 0-2). Rebounds—Northern Colorado 39 (Strange, Ooksdyke 8), Wichita State 33 (Decker 6). Assists—Northern Colorado 11 (Five tied at 2), Wichita State 12 (Harden 4). Fouls—Northern Colorado 14, Wichita State 15. A—10,307