Bessard, newcomers outmuscle Newman

Rangie+Bessard+pulled+in+nine+rebounds+in+the+second+half+while+adding+19+points+in+Wichita+State%27s+victory+Wednesday+night.+

Matt Crow

Rangie Bessard pulled in nine rebounds in the second half while adding 19 points in Wichita State’s victory Wednesday night.

Senior forward Rangie Bessard went down with a leg injury early in the first quarter as Wichita State trailed Newman 14-12.

Bessard shook off the injury and returned to play. Her physical play turned the game for the Shockers. In the paint, Bessard forced the Jets to shoot 17 percent giving WSU an 11-point lead heading into halftime. 

Bessard continued the showcase on both ends, crashing the boards for nine rebounds in the second half and adding 19 points in WSU’s 58-49 win over Newman in their opening exhibition matchup at Charles Koch Arena on Wednesday night.  

“Her anticipation (of the ball) was great,” head coach Jody Adams-Birch said. “She stayed in there, she fought, and she was able to get her hands on the ball.”

The Shockers started out the first quarter with three turnovers and five straight missed shot attempts. WSU’s first made basket came off a three-pointer from freshman forward Kayla Williams.

Newman quickly regained the lead 8-5 with 4:34 left in the first quarter off a layup. The Jets shot 55 percent in the opening minutes, as they took a five-point lead.

An offensive rebound and basket by freshman forward Angiee Tompkins cut the the deficit 14-12 to end the first quarter.

“They were ready and excited to play us,” Adams-Birch said. “(Playing back and forth) sets the tone for us and understanding that you’re going to have a target on your back as long as you play here.”

Bessard knocked in a pair of free throws and a basket off a post move to give the Shockers their first lead of the game. A steal by junior guard Diamond Lockhart led to a made jump shot by senior guard Jaleesa Chapel extending WSU’s lead 22-18.

Junior guard Tamara Lee extended the Shockers’ lead 29-20 with a three-point shot with 1:52 remaining in the first half.

WSU’s second quarter defense allowed only six Newman points, surging the Shockers out to a 31-20 halftime lead.

“Our bench was super hype and they kept us engaged and motivated,” Bessard said. “When we were down, they picked us up. When you have a team like that, all you want to do is go out there and give it your all.”

The Shockers started the second half with a three from junior guard Aundra Stovall. A two-point shot inside the lane extended the Shockers’ lead 36-20 with 8:29 left in the third quarter.

Newman cut WSU’s lead to single digits by going on a 9-0 scoring run. A three from Hannah Alexander made it a 40-36 game with 4:11 left in the third quarter.

Two inside baskets by the Jets tied the game at 40, before a basket by Thompkins allowed the Shockers to regain the lead. A pair of free throws by Newman allowed the Jets to take the lead after the third quarter 43-42.

A three-pointer from Lockhart gave the Shockers a 47-45 lead with 8:32 left. After Alexander hit a jump shot to tie the game for Newman, junior guard Keke Thompson drove to the rim and drew the foul to give WSU a 49-47 lead.

“It’s moments like those where you are very proud and continue to push your team because you know what type of players they are,” Bessard said. “Our newcomers have done a great job of just following their leaders in practice and being leaders themselves.”

An offensive rebound by Bessard set up the alley-oop pass to Thompson to extend WSU’s lead 51-47. A steal by Bessard set up her up for an and-one opportunity.

An offensive rebound by the Shockers allowed Bessard to convert another and-one basket to extend the Shocker’s lead 56-47 with 4:32 left as WSU snatched victory.

The Shockers managed to out rebound the Jets 44-40, with WSU grabbing 24 offensive rebounds. WSU forced 21 Newman turnovers in the win and came up with 13 steals.

Thompson finished with nine points while Williams added four points with three rebounds in their first Division I game. Tompkins scored five points and pulled in four rebounds in her first start for the Shockers.

“[Winning the first game] feels great,” Williams said. “The newcomers, we work so hard and in practice we work even harder.”

WSU plays their final exhibition game on Sunday at Charles Koch Arena against Cameron University from Lawton, Oklahoma, at 2:05 p.m.