The final shot was hoisted and fell well short and left of the rim, the ball entirely missing its target and landing out of bounds.
It was the dreadful bow to put on top of a miserable package the Wichita State women’s basketball team delivered in a 63-42 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay on Sunday afternoon in Koch Arena.
Wichita State had lost five times before Sunday, but never by more than five points — a statistic supposedly showing how close it was to success. But nothing about this loss was close. WSU (6-6) shot 29.7 percent, had only four players make a basket and finished with 18 turnovers.
The schedule was in place to slowly escalate to this nonconference schedule finale. By now the Shockers were hoping to compete with a team like Green Bay, which coach Jody Adams said will be the best team they face.
Instead, concern sets in for Thursday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener against Missouri State.
“If we show up the way we did tonight, this is exactly what’s going to happen in the Valley,” WSU senior Chynna Turner said. “Instead of being second, we’ll be 10th.”
Turner was referencing the preseason poll that choose WSU second based on returning one of the most talented rosters in the conference.
Talent is not the issue with WSU. There was no discernible talent difference between the two teams on Sunday, yet one team played as a connected unit and another like a scrambled mess.
Adams was not shy about what she feels is the issue.
“It’s my job to prepare the team for what’s coming,” Adams said. “But to prepare mentality, I don’t think you coach that. Heart, play for 40 minutes, not give in, not give up, keep fighting.... I don’t think you should have to coach that at this level.”
Wichita State played Green Bay to a 15-15 tie after 13 minutes. The rest of the game was one long struggle for the Shockers.
Green Bay ended the half on a 13-6 run and eventually broke WSU’s will in the second half to open up a 20-point lead. WSU was never close than six points in the second half.
“It showed what a tough-mentality type team can do,” WSU senior Jessica Diamond said. “We’ve had a mentality like that. When we show up like that, we can be just as great.”
For that to happen, WSU needs a leader. Somebody that won’t allow WSU to be bullied around like it was on Sunday. Somebody that won’t let the offense grow stagnant. Somebody that can ignite the team on the court.
There were five players on the court like that on Sunday. None were in a WSU uniform.
“(Green Bay was) just strong, physically fit kids that move at a tempo for 40 minutes and it did not stop,” Adams said. “They kept coming, and coming, and coming at you. That’s supposed to be us.”
Halftime — Green Bay 28, Wichita St. 21. 3 pt. shooting — UWGB 9-21 (Eichler 3-3, Bauer 3-6, K. Lukan 1-1, Gilbertson 1-3, Ritchie 1-5, Sension 0-1, M. Lukan 0-2), WSU 4-13 (Fountaine 3-5, Diamond 1-2, Decker 0-2, Turner 0-2, Dapprich 0-2). Rebounds — UWGB 36 (Ranger 6), WSU 29 (Decker 5). Assists — UWGB 17 (M. Lukan 7), WSU 6 (Diamond 2). Fouls — UWGB 21, WSU 19. A — 1,449.