If you’re looking for an explanation for how the Wichita State women’s basketball team went from winning 20 straight games and a national ranking to losing four of its last five, including to the team ranked 336th in the RPI, coach Jody Adams has a simple one for you.
By Adams’ staff’s calculations, When WSU was winning its defense was generating nearly 30 points per game for the WSU offense. In the three weeks since, Adams said coaches have tracked WSU right around 12 points per game.
And that’s how the Shockers find themselves in this predicament, requiring a victory in the regular-season finale Sunday against Missouri State just to share the Missouri Valley title after building a four-game lead with six to play.
“It’s grind time and you’ve got to have tough kids and at times we were just soft,” Adams said. “We didn’t want to buck up and buckle down.”
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It has been a stunning reversal for the team that garnered its first national ranking in program history by going 12-0 to start the Valley season.
It’s as if when the Shockers lost 80-71 at Northern Iowa, their aura of invincibility was shattered. They have played like a broken team since, briefly returning to form to defeat Illinois State by 17 at home, only to lose its next three to Indiana State, Evansville and Southern Illinois.
The loss to Southern Illinois was the most sobering. The Salukis were rated 336th out of 347 Division-I teams in the country before the game.
“It was depressing,” WSU junior Alex Harden said. “We were trying to figure out what went wrong.”
“That was all on us,” senior Michelle Price added. “It wasn’t just SIU. That was us. It was our choice not to take that game over.”
What troubled Adams the most was when she saw her team out-worked by the worst team in the conference.
“That’s what is most disappointing,” Adams said. “You just hate it. You had such a great thing going, but you’ve got to have toughness. Tough kids win, soft ones don’t.
“It’s a choice. It’s a flat-out choice to play the way we want to play.”
It is true that WSU will need a victory to share the conference title with Indiana State, but the Shockers desperately need to prove to themselves they are capable of playing the style that sent them on the 20-game winning streak.
For extra incentive, Sunday will the senior day for fifth-year senior Price, who was part of the foundation that made it possible for WSU to compete for Valley championships.
“We want to cut down the nets for her,” Harden said. “She built the program for five years strong and there’s a lot of things we wouldn’t be able to do without her. We want to win for her.”