Wichita State Shockers

WSU women’s basketball off to best start in two decades, hosts OSU on Tuesday

The Wichita State women’s basketball team is off to its best start to a season in nearly two decades and hosts its biggest nonconference game of the season at Koch Arena on Tuesday against Oklahoma State.

WSU (5-1) has won all five games at Koch Arena and coach Keitha Adams says the Shockers have tried to play an exciting brand of basketball for fans to get behind. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. with a family package of four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of popcorn and four drinks available for $32.

“The thing that I like about this team is that they play hard and they’re competitive,” Adams said. “When you have a team that does that, then you feel really good about that as a coach. I think our fans have enjoyed watching this group of gals play because they play with a lot of passion.”

Piling up so many wins this early in the season is somewhat of a surprise for these Shockers, which are the fifth-youngest team in the country and have nine freshmen on roster.

While some of that is a byproduct of playing overmatched opponents at home, wins over Missouri State and Louisiana Tech stand out. WSU has climbed to No. 123 nationally in the ELO ratings by National Statistical, which measures the relative strength of teams.

“It’s been good for us being at home so much early on and having some success when you have so many young players like we have,” Adams said. “That’s been good, but playing a really good team like South Dakota on the road is also really good for us. We spent a lot of time in the film room after that game and it really showed the different areas where we need to improve.”

The best opponent on WSU’s nonconference comes to Koch Arena on Tuesday in Oklahoma State. According to the ELO ratings, OSU (4-0) is No. 29 nationally with a win probability of 87 percent against WSU.

That’s fine with Adams, who relishes the underdog role. Even if WSU takes a loss, it will get 40 minutes against a higher-quality opponent that can serve as another teaching tool as conference play nears.

“Any time you can bring in a great program like Oklahoma State with a great tradition, it’s always a biggie,” Adams said. “This is a game we can use to help promote our team and give our and the Oklahoma State fans a fun game and a good game to watch. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage has risen to the challenge of becoming the go-to player for WSU in her senior season. In WSU’s 70-56 win over Louisiana Tech over the weekend, Lozada-Cabbage produced 16 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block to lead her team to a win.

But the Shockers still have areas for improvement.

Fouls (22.3 per game) and turnovers (19.7 per game) still plague them. They record assists on less than 40 percent of their made baskets, one of the lowest rates in the country. And they still aren’t much of a threat from the outside, as they make 3.7 threes per game on 29-percent accuracy.

“Every day we’re trying to focus on doing the little things,” Adams said. “We’re still trying to get them to learn what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Right now they’re still trying to remember the play and where they are going to be versus knowing it and understanding it. It takes time to get there, but we’re making baby steps.”

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