The Wichita State women’s basketball team found its defensive sting in the Virgin Islands and will try to use it at home Friday afternoon against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Koch Arena.
Returning home from the Paradise Jam, where they collected resume-building double-digit victories over Ohio State and Clemson, the Shockers (4-2) are coming off their three best defensive performances of the season against three of the toughest opponents on their schedule.
Allowing an average of 53 points and 41-percent shooting in three games are solid marks, but a look at Wichita State’s points per possession allowed, an advanced metric which represents a team’s effectiveness, shows just how solid it was. In three games, WSU allowed an average of 0.85 points per possession; anything less than 1.00 is considered above-average.
“I think we just followed the game plan,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “We followed through and executed as a team, both offensively and defensively.”
Locking up major-conference opponents like Ohio State and Clemson was encouraging, and even in a loss to Florida Gulf Coast, WSU forced 16 turnovers and controlled the boards.
Wichita State won’t see the same caliber of talent in Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-4), team that lost to Talladega College, an NAIA Division II school.
Adams doesn’t want to see her players relax after proving they can go up against the big schools. She wants them to prove they can dominate, and part of that is keeping the intensity in a noon game against an overmatched opponent in front of thousands of school children.
“I think they see where we’ve got to continue to get better,” Adams said. “Just offensively, be more consistent, and defensively continue to play within our system. There is still a lot of growth left, on both sides of the ball.”
This non-conference slate was designed to show off the talents of Alex Harden, Kelsey Jacobs, and Michaela Dapprich, and they have responded, but it was also for Adams to identify which bench players she can count on.
Sophomore guard Kayla White has started the last four games. But the biggest strides have come from transfer Brittany Martin and sophomore Jaleesa Chapel, both of whom saw an uptick in minutes on the Islands.
“They’re minutes were small, but their minutes were huge in the timing of when they came in the game,” Adams said. “It’s just a matter of them staying consistent. And that’s just not being consistent in a game. It’s in practice. If you don’t practice well, we believe that’s how you are going to play in a game or if you’re going to get in the game at all. I think they’re becoming more consistent and they’re establishing that trust with their teammates and coaching staff.”
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at WSU women
When: 12:05 p.m.
Where: Koch Arena
Records: APB 2-4, WSU 4-2