After five years on the Wichita State women’s basketball team, Kelsey Jacobs is used to a heavy workload.
Friday night’s 85-38 throttling of Illinois State, still winless after 17 games, at Koch Arena — the largest win over a Missouri Valley opponent in WSU history — was a perfect display of all her responsibilities.
The 6-foot-2 senior morphed into whatever position coach Jody Adams needed her to be on command. She started the game guarding a post and ended on a guard. She spearheaded the front of the full-court press.
By the time the game mercifully came to an end, Jacobs had done just about everything and her stat line of eight points, eight rebounds, and eight assists reflected it.
“I’ve been here for five years now, so I know what I have to do,” Jacobs said. “It definitely comes a lot easier now. It’s really not that terrible (being asked to do all those things). I actually really like my role on the team.”
It has become a vital one for the Shockers, which improved to 15-3 and 6-0 in the Valley with the 47-point victory.
Scoring and rebounding come with the territory of being 6-foot-2, but Jacobs’ ability to read the floor? That’s what separates her from her peers. After Friday, she is tied for the team lead with 60 assists.
“I think it’s because of her motor,” Adams said. “Players that play with a high motor, their vision is different. She can see A, B, and C, and then she can see her seam drives because she gets there before everybody else. When you play like that, it’s a different ball game.”
Adams has capitalized on this ability by putting Jacobs in advantageous spots on the court. Adams knows teams are likely to guard Jacobs with a post player, a mismatch that she has exploited all season by running the offense through Jacobs from the high post.
When Jacobs catches and pivots, Adams has cleared the lane by dotting the floor with four shooters surrounding her. This free space allows the natural gifts of Jacobs to blossom.
“If I see I have a shooter on one of my sides, then I drive and attack their man,” Jacobs said. “If they pull to me, then I have my kick, and if they don’t, I have the layup. I just have to read it.”
Lately, Jacobs has been making the right reads, including in Friday’s game where WSU led by double-digits for the final 32 minutes. Michaela Dapprich led the team with 18 points, while Jamillah Bonner (17), Alex Harden (14), and Alie Decker (13) were also in double-figures.
“It’s just her confidence and her motor now,” Harden said. “She knows the game, she knows what we has to do, and I think she’s just playing right now and it’s coming easy to her.”
ILLINOIS STATE (0-17, 0-6): Smith 2-5 0-0 4, Hall 2-4 0-0 5, Sims 0-8 2-4 2, Winge 4-10 0-2 9, Freeman 0-4 0-0 0, Crump 1-9 1-2 3, Bess 0-0 2-4 2, Tolar 2-6 0-2 6, Stewart 2-5 2-2 7. Totals 13-51 7-16 38.
WICHITA STATE (15-3, 6-0): Bonner 7-15 3-4 17, Jacobs 3-7 2-2 8, Decker 5-11 0-0 13, Harden 7-10 0-0 14, Mi. Dapprich 7-10 2-2 18, Stovall 1-3 0-0 3, White 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 1-4 2-2 4, Chapel 1-1 0-0 2, Mo. Dapprich 1-3 4-4 6. Totals 33-65 13-14 85.
Halftime—Wichita State 41, Illinois State 21. Three-point shooting—ISU 5-16 (Tolar 2-5, Stewart 1-1, Hall 1-2, Winge 1-3, Freeman 0-2, Sims 0-3); WSU 6-12 (Decker 3-4, Mi. Dapprich 2-3, Stovall 1-2, Bonner 0-3). Rebounds—ISU 33 (Crump 5), WSU 43 (Jacobs 8). Assists—ISU 6 (Winge, Bess 2), WSU 18 (Jacobs 8). Fouls—ISU 16, WSU 12. A—2,125.