Shockers capture first conference win, victorious in back-to-back home games

Evan Pflugradt

It’s been more than three months since nine Shockers laced up for the first time to take the floor on Devlin Court.

Wichita State captured their first set of conference victories of the season, starting with a win Friday — a 57-48 win over Southern Illinois.

The team built on their momentum and won again Sunday, defeating Evansville 58-50.

Call it a rebuilding year for the Shockers. It was Dec. 29 the last time the Shockers chalked up a ‘W’ in the win column (a home exhibition win over Oklahoma Christian). The team entered the weekend with a record of a mere three wins and 12 losses.

But the record holds no stamp of approval for head coach Jody Adams, now in her eighth season. The losses will stand as building blocks in the pathway of Adams’ big dreams.

“Losing affects every competitor,” Adams said. “[The losses] have opened up our minds.”

The determination of Adams and her team was poised and ready to welcome the Salukis of Southern Illinois on Friday. The Shockers stopped a late rally and locked up the lead through the final minutes to give Adams’s team a spirit of hope with their first victory.

“Day-by-day we’re learning to be competitors,” said Rangie Bessard. “We’re now accepting the fact that we can compete on this high of level.”

The team carried the momentum of a heartening conference victory into a Sunday home matchup with Evansville. The Shockers drew a good match, Evansville entered Charles Koch with a mere two victories on the season, and one lone road win.

Though the matchup blew favorite to the Shockers, this youthful team learned that no team in the Valley can be taken lightly.

Though the Shockers got out to a fast 4-0 start, Evansville came running back with a rally of their own. The Purple Aces pushed ahead with a five-point lead only three minutes into the game.

“Every situation is not going to be great or in your control,” said Bessard.

The game would swing in favor of the Purple Aces through the remainder of the first quarter before the Shockers came battling back. The Purple Aces defended guards Aundra Stovall and Diamond Lockhart with double-team pressure outside the three-point line. The Shockers took to the post with Rangie Bessard to battle in traffic for baskets.

Capped off by a three-point basket by Aundra Stovall the Shockers finished the half on a 15-4 scoring run. They entered the half with a three point lead.

“Those shots give us a push in momentum and confidence,” said Stovall of her quarter-ending three-pointer. “[Those rallies] give us the belief that ‘this is our game, we can take it.’”

The Shockers continued to hold down the opponent. Wichita State continued to hold a lead on Evansville through the entire third quarter. Evansville battled to the end, cutting the lead back to four points in the final quarter, the Shockers ultimately prevailed for their second-straight victory.

The Shockers now hold a 2-6 record in the conference, and although it’s not in the top tier, they’re learning how to be competitors.

“Once you figure out how to handle tough times, and you handle them with class and dignity, great things happen,” Adams said.