Rarely does the Wichita State women’s basketball team need its offense to rescue it.
Usually that’s up to the defense, but with one of their worst statistical defensive showings at Koch Arena under coach Jody Adams, the Shockers needed hot shooting to ward off Southern Illinois for a 80-61 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The victory keeps Wichita State (16-3, 7-0 MVC) on pace with Drake for the Missouri Valley lead.
The Shockers allowed SIU to make 50 percent of its shots, by far the highest percentage allowed this season by what had been the nation’s stingiest defense. In fact, WSU was holding opponents to 33.1-percent shooting in the prior 10 home games.
The 19-point margin makes it seem like WSU cruised, but Adams knows it must be better. Especially with a crucial road swing at Northern Iowa and Drake coming up.
“We have to grade ourselves very hard because we’re at the top and everybody is out to stop us,” Adams said. “Right now it’s us stopping us. So we have to continue to present those challenges to our team, and a mature team understands that.”
That’s why Adams wasn’t ecstatic about the second consecutive game of scoring at least 80 points and shooting over 50 percent. The performances came against Illinois State and Southern Illinois, two of the worst defenses in the Valley.
Even if it was what Adams expected, Wichita State executed its sets as well as it has all season to produce open shots. Adams was actually disappointed the shooting percentage wasn’t higher than 54.7 percent, a fair critique considering how many open shots in the paint WSU missed.
Kelsey Jacobs had a few of those open misses inside, but rebounded to score a season-high 17 points to lead WSU. It was just the second time in her career she has scored more than 15 points.
“I missed a couple of easy, back-to-the-basket shots with my left hand and Jody kind of got on me after that,” Jacobs said. “After that, I just changed my mindset.”
So did the rest of the Shockers, as their starting five was superb offensively. Michaela Dapprich (14 points), Alie Decker (12), Alex Harden (12), and Jamillah Bonner (8) joined Jacobs to score 63 points on 50 percent shooting.
The biggest surprise came from the bench, whose production has been nonexistent at times this season — Moriah Dapprich (6 points, 6 rebounds) continues to string together solid outings and Jaleesa Chapel played meaningful minutes.
“We always love getting those points off the bench and they came out and did their jobs and executed,” Michaela Dapprich said. “We definitely needed that.”
But it was Brittany Martin, the 6-foot-3 sophomore, who stole the show with her career-high nine points, three rebounds, and a block in nine minutes.
“It felt pretty good,” Martin said. “I’ve been working hard in practice and Jody has been talking to me a lot. So (playing well) makes me feel really good.”
Southern Illinois never seriously threatened, although it did draw to within 56-50 with 8:36 remaining. A 17-6 run quickly squashed that, but it still left Adams with a sour taste in how her team defended.
WSU forced its usual high rate of turnovers (SIU committed 23) and rebounded well (a 33-25 advantage over SIU), but it failed to squeeze down the way it normally does on defense.
That minor difference doesn’t show up in a game like Sunday, playing a mediocre Valley team. But against the elite, like what the Shockers are about to see?
“We’ve got to get better,” Michaela Dapprich said. “Our execution wasn’t to its greatest today. We weren’t there on the help-side a lot of the time, so we need to get back to what we do.”
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (9-9, 2-5 MVC): Pierre 8-10 5-6 21, Stephenson 1-1 0-0 3, Macklin 4-13 0-0 8, Giebelhause 7-10 0-0 18, Washington 2-6 2-2 7, Haynes 1-1 0-0 2, Shores 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin 1-5 0-0 2, Nebo 0-1 0-0 0, Vanhyfte 0-1 0-0 0, Corrigan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 7-8 61.
WICHITA STATE (16-3, 7-0 MVC): Bonner 4-9 0-0 8, Jacobs 7-11 2-2 17, Decker 5-12 0-0 12, Harden 5-12 2-6 12, Mi. Dapprich 6-10 1-2 14, Stovall 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-0 0-0 0, Martin 4-5 1-2 9, Chapel 1-2 0-0 2, Mo. Dapprich 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 35-64 6-12 80.
Halftime—Wichita State 43, Southern Illinois 29. Three-point shooting—SIU 6-16 (Giebelhause 4-7, Stephenson 1-1, Washington 1-3, Griffin 0-2, Macklin 0-3), WSU 4-14 (Decker 2-6, Jacobs 1-1, Mi. Dapprich 1-4, Harden 0-1, Bonner 0-2). Rebounds—SIU 25 (Pierre 7), WSU 33 (Bonner, Decker, Mo. Dapprich 6). Assists—SIU 13 (Macklin 7), WSU 14 (Jacobs 5). Fouls—SIU 16, WSU 13.