Forty minutes of wrestling someone seven inches taller than her and Michaela Dapprich was ready to go another 40 on Friday night.
That’s how energized Dapprich was after WSU handed Kansas State its first loss of the season in a 51-48 victory in front of 3,536 fans at Koch Arena.
Dapprich is part of the foundation for the Shockers (6-2), but a performance that complete against K-State’s best player, Breanna Lewis, was a breakthrough, even for her. Dapprich scored 14 points, but it was her post defense that lifted WSU to its third win this season over a major-conference opponent.
“I looked at Dap one time and I thought her lips were blue because she was playing so hard every possession,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “She battled someone who stands 6-foot-5, and she’s 5-10, and I thought she got the best of her.”
K-State (6-1) has thrived in its first season under coach Jeff Mittie because of Lewis, whose long reach anchoring the middle of a 2-3 zone helped K-State enter Friday’s contest leading the nation in scoring defense. Lewis also led the team in scoring at 12.8 points on 58 percent shooting.
But it was Wichita State that executed its defense more effectively Friday. Dapprich teamed with Kelsey Jacobs to disrupt Lewis in the post, bothering her by switching up coverages and constantly double-teaming her.
Lewis finished with her average of 12 points, but did so on 5-of-12 shooting without taking a shot outside of the paint.
“(Dapprich) is the most physical kid on the team,” Jacobs said. “This whole week of preparation, she was so active. She was just prepared and played with full effort.”
The first half featured cold shooting and each team searching for weaknesses in the other’s defense. Neither team could break away, until K-State’s offense began to wilt under the pressure of WSU’s man-to-man defense.
After halftime, WSU made an adjustment in how it attacked the zone and Jacobs became crucial in operating the offense. Her job was to flash to the middle of the zone and force the defense to collapse upon the catch.
“That’s when I have to make that quick decision to either catch and shoot or catch and rip and try to get the foul,” Jacobs said. “Then I have my shooters on the outside, too.”
Once WSU figured that out, it opened up a 42-29 lead with 8:35 remaining. Instead of continuing this style, Adams opted to take time off the clock and limit K-State’s possessions. It worked, but it also robbed WSU of its aggression attacking the zone and led to eight of nine possessions coming up empty for WSU down the stretch.
Two defensive gambles by Jamillah Bonner came up empty and led directly to wide open three-pointers by Haley Texada, who made both and tied the score at 46 with 2:04 remaining.
K-State had a possession where it could have taken the lead, but it was ended by Dapprich, who rotated over to help Jacobs in the post and came up with a clean steal.
That set up the heroics for Harden, who identified the zone’s soft spot by beating the top defender off the dribble and pulling up for an open 18-foot jump shot that swished and gave WSU a 48-46 lead with 57 seconds left. Harden made 6 of 7 mid-range jump shots in the second half and scored a game-high 22 points.
“I thought her ability to focus on finishing was just amazing,” Adams said. “Probably one of her best mid-range games I’ve seen her play.”
And with WSU needing another stop, it was Dapprich who came up huge again, positioning herself behind Lewis to take a charge with 37 seconds left. Harden made 3 of 4 free throws in the last 20 seconds and WSU held on.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it by myself,” Dapprich said. “My teammates definitely came in and helped me out. Whether I was fronting the post or behind her, they were always there to help.”
With the victory, WSU now has wins over the Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, and ACC with a road trip to Tennessee (SEC) coming on Tuesday.
“These are March games you’re watching right now,” Adams said. “These are Big 5 schools we’re playing and being able to beat. For them to be able to do the game of details and inches this well, I give the credit to this team.”
KANSAS STATE (6-1): Texada 4-6 0-0 10, Lewis 5-12 2-3 12, Woods 5-9 2-2 13, Wesemann 1-7 1-2 3, Martin 1-4 0-0 2, Sheble 1-1 0-0 2, Young 1-2 0-2 2, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Craig 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 19-44 7-11 48.
WICHITA STATE (6-2): Bonner 1-5 0-0 3, Jacobs 3-9 3-4 9, Decker 1-3 0-0 3, Harden 9-17 4-5 22, Mi. Dapprich 7-14 0-2 14, Stovall 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Chapel 0-0 0-0 0, Mo. Dapprich 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-49 7-11 51.
Halftime--Wichita State 22, Kansas State 20. Three-point shooting--KSU 3-10 (Texada 2-3, Woods 1-2, Craig 0-2, Wesemann 0-3), WSU 2-10 (Decker 1-3, Bonner 1-4, Stovall 0-1, Mi. Dapprich 0-2). Rebounds--KSU 29 (Lewis, Woods 6), WSU 30 (Bonner 6). Assists--KSU 11 (Wesemann 4), WSU 13 (Harden 4). Fouls--KSU 18, WSU 15. A--3,536.