The Sunflower

Shockers fight for win in contested season opener

Wichita+State+Kayla+Williams+%2813%29+and+Lauren+Works+%2812%29+fight+for+the+ball+in+Wichita+State%27s+season+opener+Sunday+afternoon+in+Koch+Arena.
Wichita State Kayla Williams (13) and Lauren Works (12) fight for the ball in Wichita State's season opener Sunday afternoon in Koch Arena.

Wichita State Kayla Williams (13) and Lauren Works (12) fight for the ball in Wichita State's season opener Sunday afternoon in Koch Arena.

Hannah Roberts

Hannah Roberts

Wichita State Kayla Williams (13) and Lauren Works (12) fight for the ball in Wichita State's season opener Sunday afternoon in Koch Arena.

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Wichita State started their season Sunday with high hopes. They aspired for a win, but Creighton — a team projected to win their conference and defeated the Shockers last year — stood in their way.

Head coach Jody Adams-Birch said the Shockers had to come up with a different game plan to snag the win this season.

“We have to play Creighton a certain way,” Adams-Birch said. “You can’t just play them with greater athleticism. You have to play them with great discipline. You’ve got to play together.”

WSU held onto victory in the first game of the season defeating the Bluejays 62-54.

“I’m so proud of these guys for being able to hang on in a situation we haven’t been put in” Adams-Birch said.

Both teams start the game with a tight man-to-man defense that allowed very few opportunities to get a good shot off.

“With Creighton, they don’t like to speed up anything. They’re very poised so we wanted to make them uncomfortable,” junior forward Rangie Bessard said.

Creighton’s 6’ forward Brianna Rollerson kept the inside well defended making it a challenge for WSU to get off a clean inside shot.

Rollerson also led the Bluejays in points and rebounds. She had 11 rebounds and 20 points.

Creighton left the three-point line open for Bessard, junior guard Diamond Lockhart and freshman forward Kayla Williams. Each hit three-pointers early on in the first quarter.

At the end of the first quarter WSU led 19-14.

Four minutes into the second quarter the Shockers only allowed three points from Creighton, and gained 10 for themselves.

Low scoring predictions only deemed to be true for Creighton. By the end of the second quarter WSU doubled their points while holding the Bluejays to 22. At the half Creighton trailed 40-22.

“We had very good communication skills defensively, which helped us a lot,” Lockhart said.

At the half Bessard was both the leading rebounder and scorer with three rebounds and 12 points. Lockhart trailed behind with two rebounds and eight points.

The Shockers shot 56 percent to Creighton’s 28 percent from the floor.

Creighton picked up their momentum at the start of the second half, but WSU answered back and doing just the same. Junior guard Keke Thompson helped with multiple steals from Creighton.

In the fourth quarter Creighton started to close the gap to 57-44 with 4:14 left in the game. Creighton switched to a full-court press after they closed the lead to 10 points.

Creighton doubled up against WSU guards, holding the Shockers to six points in nine minutes.

Bessard finished the game as the top rebounder (8) and scorer (17).

“This is a great opportunity coming into our season opener. Winning is a great journey already witha starting off with a win,” Bessard said.

Bessard was pleased to get a new season started on a positive note. Her teammates hope this means a new direction.

“I think winning this game gives us a lot of confidence rolling into the next game,” Lockhart said. “We can do this as long as we can listen to the game plan and stick to it.”

WSU next plays UMKC at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Koch Arena.

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About the Photographer
Hannah Roberts, Photographer

Hannah Roberts is a photographer for The Sunflower. Roberts is a senior majoring in entrepreneurship and minoring in communications. She was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. Roberts has a golden retriever and catahoula leopard dog. Her hobbies include dog agility and participating on the Wichita State Shooting Sports Team. Roberts grew interested in photography after photographing dog agility trials. She hopes to either be a sports photographer or photojournalist. Roberts would like to tie her entrepreneurial skills into freelance photography.

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