Wichita State’s women’s basketball team fell behind by seven points early in Friday night’s game against Drake, then the Shockers went on the offensive.
Not just an uphill, constant rally from a deficit WSU could never quite erase, but superior effort that led to numerous offensive rebounds – 19 to be exact.
The Shockers, though, could never master the defensive side. Drake scored 25 points in the first and third quarters, and leading scorer Lizzy Wendell dominated the fourth quarter in an 83-78 Drake win in the Missouri Valley Conference opener at Koch Arena.
Drake built the lead to eight in the first quarter, and briefly in the second, but WSU never got closer than three before Drake, which shot 52.5 percent, stretched its advantage to double digits in the fourth quarter.
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“We got in the gym, we made shots this week,” WSU coach Jody Adams-Birch said. “They did some things very differently this week. We’ve got to continue to do that and trust that it’s going to help us continue to grow and win games like this, against a high-powered offensive team.
“We’re scoring 78 points, we should win this game.”
Wendell scored 32 points, matching the total of WSU forward Rangie Bessard. The game stayed close enough and each star got enough support so it didn’t turn into a showcase for two candidates for conference player of the year.
Bessard also led the Shockers with 12 rebounds, and her work in that area charged WSU toward essentially an even game after Drake scored the first seven points.
The Shockers sent four players to the offensive glass and it worked, as a pair of putbacks by Angiee Tompkins cut Drake’s lead to 56-53 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
“We had four crashing to the goal and one back,” said WSU guard TaQuandra Mike, who was also an active offensive rebounder. “…We were definitely feeding off of Rangie, offensively and defensively, with her putbacks and her defensive rebounds. I get my energy from my team.”
WSU’s approach toward rebounding was costly at times. With four Shockers near the basket, Drake turned missed shots into transition opportunities. The Bulldogs had a numbers advantage after most WSU misses and got layups that kept WSU from taking the lead.
Drake also took threes in transition, and though its 6-of-20 showing didn’t produce an ideal percentage, the Bulldogs made three more threes than WSU and used two of them to extend leads of three and four points in the third quarter.
“In situations like that, it’s our timely turnovers. We had poor timely turnovers,” Bessard said. “With a team like Drake, you don’t want to exchange baskets with them, because while we’re getting a two, they’re running in transition to get a three. It has to be in our mindset, if we get a stop and we get a score, we have to work harder to get another stop.”
WSU crashed the boards to keep Wendell, who averages 21 points, from getting behind the defense. Too often, though, the Shockers misread their ability to grab an offensive rebound, and Wendell got loose.
Wendell made 13 of 18 shots and became most commanding in the fourth quarter, making all five of her shots, and spurring Drake to a 9-2 run to begin the fourth.
“You don’t have a chance to put your head down,” Adams-Birch said. “If you miss a play defensively, they’re sprinting and you’re stalling. …When we weren’t hitting the offensive boards, we ended up connecting someone to Wendell so that wouldn’t happen.
“We said we were not going to give Wendell a 40-point game – we got close.”
DRAKE (8-4): Wendell 13-18 5-5 32, Hittner 3-8 4-5 10, Bachrodt 5-13 1-2 14, Ingle 5-7 0-0 12, Jonas 2-4 2-4 6, Rose 1-4 0-0 2, Greiner 0-3 0-0 0, Miller 2-2 0-0 4, Rush 0-0 0-0 0, Mertz 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 32-61 13-18 83.
WICHITA ST. (5-7): Thompson 4-8 0-1 8, Stovall 2-4 1-2 6, Preston 4-12 0-0 9, Mike 4-12 0-0 9, Bessard 11-20 10-11 32, Lockhart 0-1 0-0 0, Lee 0-1 0-0 0, Lozada-Cabbage 1-1 0-0 2, Tompkins 4-9 4-5 12.
Three-point shooting—Drake 6-20 (Bachrodt 3-8, Ingle 2-2, Wendell 1-3, Rose 0-1, Hittner 0-3, Greiner 0-3), WSU 3-16 (Stovall 1-1, Mike 1-3, Preston 1-7, Lockhart 0-1, Lee 0-1, Tompkins 0-1, Bessard 0-2). Rebounds—Drake 32 (Wendell 5), WSU 41 (Bessard 12). Assists—Drake 22 (Ingle 8), WSU 12 (Stovall 5). Steals—Drake 7 (Wendell 3), WSU 11 (Bessard 3). Total fouls—Drake 17, WSU 18. Technicals—None. A — 1,670.