The Wichita State women’s basketball team’s quest for back-to-back Missouri Valley titles will receive its stiffest competition on Monday night, when it takes on fellow unbeaten Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind.
Both teams enter 6-0 in MVC play, and with WSU returning home to play Southern Illinois and Evansville, two teams at the bottom of the league standings, the match-up will likely serve as the most crucial in the first round of the Valley schedule.
Coach Jody Adams and the Shockers (15-2) know they are putting more than their school-record 14-game winning streak on the line against the Sycamores (11-6).
“You have to embrace it for what it is,” Adams said. “It’s two undefeated teams, two great programs playing for the first time. It’s a road game that will mean a lot in the end if you can win.”
With the Valley shaping up as a two-team race — WSU and Indiana State already have a two-game lead on the pack — the winner of Monday’s game will have the trump card until the two meet again in Wichita on Feb. 23.
The Shockers enter playing their most impressive stretch of basketball under Adams, as they have defeated their first six Valley opponents by an average of more than 21 points, including three 30-point victories.
Adams said WSU has yet to play a complete game, however.
“We have put together 5 and 10 and 20 minutes of our best basketball,” Adams said. “I think (Monday) is going to take us putting together 40 minutes. It’s going to come down to big possessions. If we don’t win this game, it’s going to be us beating ourselves.”
Adams made it clear that was not a slight on WSU’s opponents, rather the utmost confidence in how well this team prepares and the parts the Shockers have at their disposal.
With a player like Alex Harden, who is in the top 10 in 11 of 13 statistical categories in the MVC, Adams feels like WSU has what it needs against any opponent, even one with the No. 1 scoring defense in the Valley.
Indiana State is the next big game in a line of several that the Shockers will see in their stretch run of defending their title, and Adams has exactly what she feels like she needs to make it a success.
“Our freshmen are going into those uncharted waters now, so they’re going to be following our upperclassmen,” Adams said. “They’re going to follow their confidence, their swagger, and they’re going to follow their ways to get a victory at the end of the 40 minutes. Our upperclassmen are ready for this.”