Friday’s box score
Halftime — Wichita St. 36-34. Three-point shooting Drake 10-21 (Heap 3-5, Clark 2-3, Grenfell 2-4, Reid 1-1, Bartow 1-2, Lutes 1-3, Marschner 0-1, Specht 0-2), Wichita St. 5-12 (Dapprich 3-6, Turner 1-1, Diamond 1-1, Fountaine 0-4). Rebounds Drake 28 (three with 5), Wichita St. 38 (Price 9). Assists — Drake 13 (Clark 3), Wichita St. 10 (Harden 3). Total fouls — Drake 9, Wichita St. 13. A — NA.
After missing the last two games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury, senior Jessica Diamond returned to the starting lineup for the Shockers against Drake.
Diamond, who led WSU in scoring in 13 of the first 15 games, has seen her scoring load reduced as the season progressed. The All-Valley pick started Friday, made 4 of 8 shots and scored nine points in 32 minutes.
“We haven’t been able to play our entire bench,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “We’ve had three seniors miss games this season. We’re still trying to get this team all together. You lean a lot on your point guard and my point guard has been out for awhile.”
Sophomore Alex Harden did most of the ballhandling against Drake, but Diamond is expected to reclaim that duty in the semifinals.
Defense is best
After holding teams to just more than four three-pointers a game on the second-best percentage in the Valley, Wichita State allowed Drake to make 8 of 14 from beyond the arc in the first half.
But the Shockers proved why they were the best defensive team in the conference in the second half, clamping down on Drake’s shooters and holding them to 32-percent shooting.
What makes WSU devastating, like it was during 17-0 and 24-3 runs, is when it turns defensive stops into easy points on the other end.
“They create a lot of their points with their defense,” Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “But they’re also a senior-dominated team. When you have seniors that have gone through a lot of difference experiences, they are a much more seasoned team than we are.”
Drake finished with 20 turnovers, with the Shockers scoring 28 points off them.
“It helps to build momentum to start the first half of the next game like we finished in second half,” said Alex Harden, who had three steals. “We just have to start with our defense.”
Freshman Michaela Dapprich has scored 22, 17 and 15 points in her last three games after averaging 7.0 in the regular season.... Drake’s 10 three-pointers on Friday were the third-highest total for the Bulldogs this season.... The eight three-pointers by Drake were the most allowed by WSU in a half this season... Freshman Alie Decker was not in uniform due to injury and is believed to be done for the season.... Drake featured a Kansas product in Mary Pay Specht, a Shawnee Mission North graduate, who scored six points off the bench.... Wichita State will face another team it has never beaten in the MVC tournament in Northern Iowa (0-4) in the semifinals.