Alie Decker let a shot attempt fly from the left wing that was a hair short. The ball hit the front of the rim, elevated for a moment and hit the rim twice more before teetering in for a three-pointer at the end of the first half.
It was that kind of shooting day for Decker, who broke a school record with nine three-pointers and posted a career-high 31 points in Wichita State’s record-breaking 66-20 win over Winthrop to wrap up the Wichita State Winter Classic at Koch Arena.
“Obviously the confidence was there,” coach Jody Adams said. “That’s what a great shooter does. She’s a great shooter, and she worked for that. That didn’t just come. This is a young lady who spends a lot of time in the gym making shots – hundreds every day.”
Decker made 11 of 19 shots. She score 8 of her 17 first-half points during a 19-2 run to break the game open. Both teams struggled to score early – only five of the game’s first 23 shots went in – but Decker hit two quick threes to spark the run and turn a 5-4 game into a 24-6 advantage in a span of 10 minutes.
Coming from a shooter who had to redshirt as a freshman due to multiple knee injuries, Decker’s performance was more in line with what both coach and player had wanted for the 5-foot-10 guard from Edmond, Okla.
“It’s what I hoped for,” Decker said. “I think everyone has that dream of playing Division-I college ball, but coming in and getting hurt made me a better person and a better player. I got to watch and learn from the seniors that were there and from all the other players. Even if I wasn’t playing they were teaching me what to do and why to do it. So I think all of that just made me a better player.”
The best offensive game of Decker’s career came at the right time. Fellow sophomore Jamillah Bonner and her 11 points per game average were on the bench Saturday due to a team-imposed one-game suspension.
Decker’s offense and a record-breaking effort on defense was more than enough to fill Bonner’s void. WSU held Winthrop to 20 points, a record low from a Division-I opponent, and forced more turnovers (21) than points allowed. The Eagles (5-5) were limited to 17.2 percent (10 of 58) from the field and failed to hit a three or free throw.
Jaleesa Chapel, who made her first start of the season in Bonner’s place, grabbed give rebounds and added four points. Brittney Martin came off the bench to contribute seven rebounds and seven blocks.
“This is one of the best team efforts I’ve seen defensively,” Adams said. “This team executed our game plan and played personnel in such a quick turnaround. It was probably the best I’ve seen this season.”
The win capped a perfect weekend for the Shockers, who also beat Louisiana-Monroe on Friday to start the four-team Wichita State Winter Classic at Koch Arena. Three of the Shockers — Decker, Kelsey Jacobs and Michaela Dapprich — made the all-tournament team.
Jacobs had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in the two wins, while Dapprich added 22 points.
“I’m really excited to see them mature and be able to absorb information in such a quick turnaround and execute a game plan,” Adams said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Decker broke the single-game three-point record set by WSU’s career three-point leader Courtney Sims, who hit seven threes in a game twice during her career.
WINTHROP (5-5): Vernon 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 4-10 0-0 8, Nunn 4-15 0-2 8, Kilpatrick 1-15 0-0 2, Wright 0-2 0-0 0, Na. Jackson 0-3 0-0 0, Decheva 0-2 0-0 0, Mbamalu 1-9 0-2 2. Totals 10-58 0-4 20.
WICHITA STATE (8-3): Jacobs 4-9 0-0 8, Decker 11-19 0-0 31, Mi. Dapprick 3-10 0-0 6, Harden 4-10 2-2 10, Chapel 2-5 0-2 4, Stovall 0-1 0-0 0, White 1-3 0-0 2, Martin 1-3 1-2 3, Mo. Dapprich 1-2 0-0 2.
Halftime—Wichita State 30, Winthrop 8. Three-point shooting—W 0-7 (Vernon 0-2, Kilpatrick 0-2, Wright 0-1, Decheva 0-2), WSU 9-18 (Jacobs 0-1, Decker 9-14, Mi. Dapprich 0-2, Harden 0-1). Rebounds—W 44 (Nunn 11), WSU 43 (Harden 9). Assists—W 4 (Williams 2, Kilpatrick 2), WSU 22 (Jacobs 6). Fouls—W 10, WSU 10. A—1,579.