WSU women follow defense to win in season-opener

11/09/2013 6:46 AM

11/09/2013 6:46 AM

The school-children heavy crowd of 9,194 at Koch Arena on Friday afternoon made a lot of noise, as usual, cheering good defense just as enthusiastically as scoring.

Those kids did their homework. Wichita State’s women’s basketball team always relies on defense and the start of a new season and three new starters didn’t change anything. The Shockers routed Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne 69-46 in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. They held the Mastodons to 13 points in the first half, including a scoreless stretch of 7 minutes, 15 seconds.

“We saw production from how hard we work on defense,” WSU guard Alex Harden said.

The Shockers (1-0) advance to the second round of the WNIT and will play Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s Stetson-Oklahoma game in Norman. IPFW (0-1) falls into the losers bracket.

The Mastodons may find it easier to score against that competition. The Shockers refused to give them anything easy for most of the game, disrupting their offense with full-court pressure and switching man-to-man defense. They pushed IPFW’s guards beyond the three-point line, covered their shooters with superior athletes and harassed their ball-handlers. IPFW made 3 of 17 shots in the first half and 11 of 38 (28.9 percent) for the game. The Shockers forced 18 turnovers and scored 18 points off those mistakes.

“We wore on them,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “We were not going to allow them to walk the ball up. We were not going to walk it up offensively. We really wanted to push the tempo.”

IPFW took its last lead at 10-9 with 14:25 to play in the first half and trailed 14-12 with 11:56 remaining. It turned the ball over on its next two possessions, starting the WSU rout. Michelle Price’s three-point play with 8:16 remaining gave the Shockers a 22-12 lead. WSU forced a shot-clock violation — IPFW’s Mur Hagerman was so preoccupied with the defense she dribbled out the clock — to start a stretch of four straight possessions ending with a turnover.

WSU had its own offense issues, until the final five minutes of the half. Alie Decker made two threes for a 33-13 lead and Harden followed with two jump shots for a 37-13 halftime lead.

The Shockers kept the defensive pressure on for most of the second half, building the lead to 38 points, 55-17, with 13:31 remaining. IPFW broke 30 points with 6:22 remaining.

“We knew they were shooters,” Price said. “We had to lock down the shooters and stay connected.”

Harden led WSU with 15 points. Price added 14. The Shockers made 6 of 13 three-pointers and committed 11 turnovers.

“Michelle’s a beast,” Adams said. “She can get to the rim. The other thing that I like is that she’s worked on her mid-range game, so that 12-foot or 15-foot shot, she’s ready to do that.”

IPFW’s Amanda Hyde, last season’s Summit League Player of the Year, scored 13 points.

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