Alie Decker and Michaela Dapprich enjoyed the last two months, where opponents in the non-conference were not as familiar with the Wichita State women’s basketball team and did not make it a priority to keep them from shooting freely around the perimeter.
That time has come to a close, as the Shockers (10-3, 1-0 MVC) are opening their first weekend of Missouri Valley play. They host Evansville (6-6, 1-0 MVC) on Sunday at noon at Koch Arena, following an 11-point victory over Indiana State on Friday.
Valley teams are well aware of Decker and Dapprich, who have each helped WSU win the last two conference championships. Valley teams will likely zone the Shockers and keep close tabs on perimeter shooters, forcing them to win from the inside-out.
Beating a zone from the inside-out is something Wichita State has struggled to sustain success with this season, although the key may be Kelsey Jacobs, the versatile, 6-foot-2 senior who serves as the fulcrum for WSU’s offense operating in the middle of the zone.
“Kelsey is the dagger,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “When she’s scoring, you’ve got basically five people that can be in double figures.”
Wichita State has shredded opponents’ attempts at man defense this season. Alex Harden is excellent at breaking down defenses in one-on-one situations, as is Jamillah Bonner. Adams finds creative ways to get Decker open for three-pointers, and Dapprich’s shooting is a nightmare matchup for a post player to defend.
That leaves Jacobs, who has elevated WSU’s play by effectively screening, tipping out loose balls, and causing havoc with her length on defense. But she can elevate it even higher when she looks to score.
“After Alie and all of their performances in the (non-conference), they’re going to have to play them for that shot,” Jacobs said of her teammates. “So I’m definitely going to have to look to score more.”
So far this season Jacobs has carved out a role as a facilitator, second on the team with nearly three assists per game. She has been vital to WSU’s three-point success, as 21 of her 35 assists have gone for treys.
Against Indiana State, Jacobs showed scoring ability. She found a crease in the zone and knocked down a 15-foot jumper and late in the game sealed a back-side defender and received a pass that led to a layup. Jacobs finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
“It’s great for us because it opens up the floor even more for everybody,” Harden said. “That creates five scorers on the floor at all times.”
Evansville, a team that struggles to defend and rebound, doesn’t figure to pose a threat as big as the one WSU just extinguished in Indiana State. But until the Shockers prove they can shake off a zone consistently, every game serves as another opportunity for them to shore up a weakness.
“I think we start to panic and individually try to create and not let our offense work for us,” Adams said. “That’s something I’ve got to go back and look at and try to get us in sync.”
Evansville women at
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Koch Arena
Records: UE 6-6, 1-0 MVC; WSU 10-3, 1-0