The crowd at Koch Arena rose and cheered for 86 seconds of defense, 86 seconds in a crouch, moving feet, avoiding screens, waving hands. Eighty-six seconds of defense is harder than it might seem and Wichita State made it look routine on Thursday.
The Shockers defeated Drake 67-47 at Koch Arena to win their 38th straight home game and tie Tulsa (1980-82) for the fourth-longest streak in Missouri Valley Conference history. Like most of those 38 wins (three at Intrust Bank Arena), WSU’s ability to frustrate, bully and bottle up scorers played a lead role.
WSU (7-5, 1-0 Missouri Valley Conference) ruined Drake’s offense with its aggressive perimeter defense that forced its top three scorers to commit 11 turnovers while making 10 baskets.
A three-possession sequence in the second half summed up the game. WSU forced shot-clock violations on back-to-back possessions. On the third, Drake’s Kale Abrahamson threw a pass out of bounds with four seconds on the shot clock.
“That’s one thing about Wichita State fans, they appreciate effort and they appreciate defense,” WSU sophomore Zach Brown said. “We try to give them that every single time we go on the court.”
Drake (5-8, 0-1 MVC) entered the game shooting 43.2 percent from three-point range, seventh nationally, and 48 percent from the field. The Shockers held the Bulldogs to 37.2-percent shooting, 37.5 behind the arc, and produced the telltale stat of 16 baskets and 18 turnovers.
“Their pressure, making you do things you don’t want to do,” Drake coach Ray Giacoletti said. “You turn it over 18 times, and only have 10 assists with that, and it doesn’t give you a very good opportunity to be successful.”
WSU defeated Drake for the eighth straight time and the eighth straight in Koch Arena. Guard Ron Baker made 5 of 7 shots and scored 14 points. Fred VanVleet added 13. Graham Woodward and Abrahamson both scored 12 for Drake.
The Shockers held Drake’s Reed Timmer to seven points, 11 below his average, with Baker spending most of his time blanketing Timmer.
“He did a great job denying,” Giacoletti said. “You’ve got to be able to set yourself up to get catches, set yourself up coming off (screens). I would say Ron was the tougher of the two tonight.”
Timmer, Woodward and Abrahamson, all of whom average 12 or more points, all shoot 39 percent or better from three-point range. They finished the MVC opener with 31 points on a 10-of-27 shooting with 11 turnovers (all by Woodward and Abrahamson) and five assists (three by Timmer).
WSU coach Gregg Marshall said one of the referees complimented the defense at the end of the game.
“That was a big-time crew that we had tonight and for one of those gentlemen to say that, because he sees a lot of good, quality basketball, that our team and individual defense stood out is a testament to how hard these guys work,” Marshall said.
WSU started the game with a run of bothersome defense and went up 11-4. It closed the half on a 7-0 run for a 33-25 halftime lead. Zach Brown’s three-point play started the burst and gave WSU a 28-25 lead. Steals by Baker and VanVleet led to baskets and sent WSU into halftime with momentum.
The Shockers came out with the same momentum, starting the half with a 13-2 run to go up 46-27. Drake’s first two possessions ended with missed shots. The next two with turnovers and the fifth when Obe Arogundade blew the only open layup allowed to that point.