Bears end Shockers’ two-game win streak in weekend loss

Nick Beach

Battling down against a less than proficient defensive quarter, the women’s basketball team couldn’t find the spark they needed offensively to stretch a victory over the conference-leading Missouri State Bears on Saturday.

Missouri State handed the Shockers their seventh conference loss of the season, 77-57.

“(Missouri State) knows how to win games,” said Wichita State head coach Jody Adams. “They play with an aggressive style. They run off their leaders.”  

Faltering to an early double-digit deficit, the Shockers were challenged to find baskets to keep the pace with the Bears.

A defensive stop by the Shockers led to a rebound by freshman Ellie Lehne. The freshman forward handed the ball off to junior Taquandra Mike, who raced down the court, crossing a defender. With the game clock ticking down, Mike wrapped the ball behind her back, and as the defense collapsed, she passed to an open Aundra Stovall in the corner.

Stovall laid up a buzzer-beating three-point basket that hit the bottom of the net. The team rallied down a 17-point deficit to enter the fourth quarter trailing by 12 points.

Despite challenged efforts in the paint, the Shockers were never able to fully capitalize when the score got closer. The Shockers gave up 24 turnovers.

“Turnovers are never good for us,” Mike said. “It’s fixable. When we get in games sometimes we freak out. We need to learn how to slow it down.”

After a sluggish start in the first half, the Shockers fell behind quickly. They surrendered a double-digit lead to the Bears in only six minutes of play.

The team looked to relish the spirit that harvested back-to-back conference victories a week earlier.

With a never-give-up mentality preached by Adams, junior Jaleesa Chapel reeled in a loose-ball on an inbound pass and marched down open court for a layup, bringing the team to within two points. It was enough to keep the Shockers in the game briefly.

The Shockers hung around with the Bears for the remainder of the first half, but their efforts were never enough to take the lead or build any string of momentum.

The third quarter was a story of post-play Adams’s group couldn’t match. Unsuccessful defensive efforts piled up one-by-one.

Four Bears finished the game with double-digit scoring.

The veteran opponent showed their experience. The Bears capitalized on defensive efforts and posted 30 points on 24 turnovers.

It’s a lesson Adams hopes her group can pick up sooner rather than later.

“We didn’t take advantage of our turnovers,” Adams said. “It shows me insufficient shot selection. We’re not connecting on those turnovers.”

Saturday’s game was alumni night; the arena recognized the program’s previous players on the court during halftime. Despite a halftime deficit, it created new motivation for Shockers trying to shine in their own light.  

“I think in my mind, what helped me was seeing the alumni here,” Chapel said. “Knowing the work they put in before our time, it motivated me.”

Though Adams battled with the frustrations of a young team, a positive spark is brewing in the guard duo of Chapel and Mike. The duo showed consistency with the ball in their hands that gave the team a veteran presence they’ve been searching for since November.

Chapel kicked things off with hot shooting. The junior guard didn’t miss in the first half and carried the momentum through the second-half to garner 12 points. She was six for nine from the field.

“We all battled, but it was [Chapel’s] best game today,” Adams said. “Both offensively and defensively.”

Taquandra and Mike drew attention from the defense and pushed the ball to her teammates for a team-high five assists to coincide with her 18 points and eight rebounds performance, leading her team in all three categories.

Though carrying seven losses in their conference record, the season is all but an afterthought in a storyline of a book Adams cannot wait to close. But with veterans blooming, things are looking up.

The Shockers go on the road to take on Drake at 7 p.m. Friday.