After reliving the nightmare of the 21-point loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay on film, Wichita State senior Jessica Diamond pulled her teammates aside for a pep talk.
“We all know what it feels like when we’re playing together and when our tempo is great,” Diamond said. “It feels good.”
Instead of repeating their past struggles, Diamond and her teammates restored thatgreat feeling in a 76-64 victory over Missouri State on Thursday night at Koch Arena. After a shaky start to the season, the Shockers are 1-0 in the Missouri Valley and have defeated Missouri State at Koch Arena the last eight times.
“I think it shows we’re a mature team,” WSU sophomore Kelsey Jacobs said.
It didn’t take long for the Shockers to display their new mindset. The first three possessions ended with posts driving aggressively to the basket and scoring for a 6-0 lead.
The tempo remained high for the rest of the half, as Diamond scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting and WSU led 35-24 at the break. The Shockers thrived, making half of their shots, while 14 Bears turnovers showed how much they struggled to keep up.
“That’s who we are,” Diamond said. “We look to jack the tempo up. When we’re playing at that high tempo, we knock down shots, we get to the rim and it opens things up.”
After succumbing to Green Bay in the second half, Wichita State faced more adversity when Missouri State rallied to within six points with 8:49 remaining in the game.
This game the Shockers responded with better offense, reeling off a 7-0 run that included a critical three-pointer by Alex Harden to restore their comfortable lead. The return of Harden (15 points, 4 assists) and Kelsey Jacobs (11 points, 5 rebounds) to relevancy on offense was crucial for WSU.
“We worked more as a unit and we had ball reversal instead of freaking out, panicking and trying to make our shot off the first pass,” Jacobs said. “That’s what I think opened everything up.”
Another important facet to the victory was silencing Christiana Shorter, Missouri State’s all-conference post player. Shorter finished with three points and fouled out with 6:12 left.
The effort embodied the turnaround by WSU, beginning what it hopes is a fresh start to its season.
“Our defense ignited our offense,” Adams said. “I think our tempo really helped us and our defense began to wear on them. I have to credit our defense (for the turnaround).”
Halftime—Wichita St. 39, Missouri St. 26. 3 pt. shooting—MSU 3-7 (B. Snow 1-1, Buer 1-2, Phillips 1-2, Williams 0-1, T. Snow 0-1), WSU 4-15 (Diamond 2-4, Harden 1-1, Fountaine 1-5, Jacobs 0-1, Turner 0-1, Jones 0-1, Decker 0-2). Rebounds—MSU 32 (Shorter 8), WSU 33 (Price 7). Assists—MSU 13 (Wilkerson 4), WSU 16 (Turner, Harden 4). Fouls—MSU 25, WSU 16. A—1,071.