Bessard’s career-high not enough to lift Shockers past Drake


Matt Crow

Junior forward Rangie Bessard drives to the basket against Drake. Bessard had a career-high of 32 points, but the Shockers ended up losing 83-76.

Junior forward Rangie Bessard kept the Shockers in the game against Drake on Friday night, shooting 55% while scoring a career-high of 32 points. Along with being the offensive guru for the Shockers, Bessard came down with 12 rebounds to help WSU win the rebounding battle 41-32.

Bessards’ efforts, however, weren’t enough to give the Shockers a win to open up conference play against Missouri Valley Conference favorite Drake. Bessard’s teammates made only 19 of their 48 shots to Drake’s 52 percent shooting, handing WSU an 83-78 loss at Koch Arena.

“I’m not about the stats. I love to see my teammates engaged and see us get team wins,” Bessard said. “So tonight was very difficult, regardless of what the stat line says. I felt like I could’ve done more.”

Three baskets by Drake and two turnovers put the Shockers an early 7-2 hole. A free throw by Lizzy Wendell extended Drake’s early lead 13-5 after converting a layup while being fouled with 5:28 left in the first quarter.

A layup by junior Aundra Stovall and a jumper by junior Rangie Bessard cut the game to a two-point deficit. The Bulldogs fed off five WSU turnovers to go up 25-17 after the first quarter.

Three turnovers and three layups by Drake allowed the Bulldogs to maintain a comfortable lead at 33-26 with 4:47 left. A Bessard layup and jumper cut the Drake lead 40-36 at halftime.

After leading all with 16 points and seven rebounds in the first half, Bessard continued to keep the Shockers in the game by scoring nine points in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Two baskets in the paint by junior Angiee Tompkins cut the Drake lead to three.

“I definitely feed off of Rangie, both offensively and defensively,” senior TaQuandra Mike said. “When I’m running down the court, I already see her finishing (layups).”

The Shockers ended the third quarter with a layup and remained trailing 65-61. Drake started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 scoring run that gave them their largest lead of the game, leading 74-63 with just over seven minutes to play.

“With a team like Drake, you don’t want to exchange baskets with them,” Bessard said. “They know how to counter every move that we send their way. With things like that, we just have to stay ready.”

The Bulldogs pushed their lead out to nine until Mike closed the gap to six with a three-pointer. After missing two close baskets, Mike was able to get the possession back with an offensive rebound that resulted in a jump ball.

Mike’s effort resulted in a Drake steal for a layup that gave them an 81-73 lead with 1:35 left. The Bulldogs scored off another steal to be in command by double digits. Junior Aundra Stovall hit a three late in the game and a Bessard finished her career-high with a layup, but the Shockers late rally ended up falling short.

“Our guard core has got to get tougher,” head coach Jody Adams-Birch said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well again today. They’ve got to get in the gym and work on their shot.”

WSU (5-7, 0-1) will play their next game against Northern Iowa on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.