The Wichita State women’s basketball team has now won 18 straight games, making them 10-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference, after defeating Bradley 67-54 at Koch Arena on Friday night.
It’s the best winning streak in program history and it’s chugging along without the best from Michaela Dapprich, who peaked in last season’s MVC Tournament, scoring 19 points in the title game to help the Shockers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
That Dapprich was present on Friday, as she fulfilled her valuable role in coach Jody Adams’ hybrid lineup as a stretch forward with her versatility on full display: 17 points, including two three-pointers, on 6-of-9 shooting to go with a game-high eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block.
While WSU achieved its top form only in spurts, seeing Dapprich reach hers is an encouraging sign for WSU and a frightening one for the rest of the Valley.
“I’ve been in a slump and I haven’t played the best I can,” Dapprich said. “But I need to stay confident and poised when I get the ball in the post and be ready to shoot. I have to do my role.”
Her role is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams that play a traditional power forward. While Dapprich has the bulk and desire to battle in the blocks, her outside shooting typically draws the other team’s top rebounder away from the basket to account for her on the perimeter.
When Dapprich is hitting, like Friday, that spaces the floor and allows WSU’s athletic lineup to chase offensive rebounds.
And when teams switch to a zone, Dapprich’s presence around the perimeter is like a magnet, pulling defenders closer to her. That’s where slashers such as Jamillah Bonner (11 points, eight rebounds) and Alex Harden (18 points) go to work.
“They have to respect her shot, so it opens up driving lanes,” Harden said. “When they go out a little further to guard her, then that opens up the gaps a little bit bigger for me.”
For the ninth time in 10 games, WSU defeated a Valley opponent by double digits. And the 13-point final margin actually is deceiving to the Shockers, who led by 23 at halftime and lost the battle to complacency in the second half.
But Adams has compiled piece after piece that complements one another. Dapprich and Alie Decker are there to make collapsing defenses pay with three-point shots; Bonner is the slasher; Jacobs is the glue; Michelle Price is the energizer; and Harden is the talent no one can match.
And they play even better defense together, evident by Bradley’s marks on Friday: 18 of 53 shooting for 34 percent and 20 turnovers.
“When they’re all moving and they’re playing off each other, it’s tough,” Adams said. “I know if I had Alex Harden and (Bonner) running at me to trap me, that’s enough to make me think twice.”
Now if Dapprich, who shot just over 43 percent in her first 15 games, can be a reliable source of scoring again, these Shockers will have an element they haven’t had moving forward.
“I’ve seen it in the beginning, the possibilities that this team can do,” Dapprich said. “And it’s great.”
That’s just another way of saying what Bradley coach Michael Brooks did after the game.
“I don’t think anybody else is going to challenge them,” he said. “That is the best team in our league for a reason.”
Halftime — Wichita St. 46, Bradley 23. Three-point shooting — BU 4-13 (Frings 1-2, Budd 1-3, Vine 1-3, O’Leary 1-4, Shull 0-1), WSU 5-24 (Mi. Dapprich 2-5, Harden 1-2, Bonner 1-8, Decker 1-8, Jacobs 0-1). Rebounds — BU 35 (Frings, Spinas-Valainis 6), WSU 41 (Price, Mi. Dapprich 8). Assists — BU 9 (three tied at 3), WSU 15 (Jacobs 6). Fouls — BU 15, WSU 13. A — 2,433.