‘We needed that from him:’ Etienne’s strong second half performance propels WSU to season-opening win


Kaylee Stout / The Sunflower

Wichita State sophomore, Tyson Etienne points to where his teammate should run to during a game against Oral Roberts University at Charles Koch Arena on Dec. 2.

The first half against Oral Roberts was not the start that sophomore guard Tyson Etienne had anticipated for his first game of the 2020-21 season. 

Etienne struggled with foul trouble and was limited to 11 minutes in the first half against Oral Roberts. Etienne said he wasn’t feeling great but with the short-handed Shocker roster, he knew he needed to find a way to contribute.  

“Just because I’m not feeling the best I can’t quit on the team,” Etienne said. “None of us can quit on each other. So I just felt like I had to do my job which is leading my guys and stepping up and putting the ball in the rim. My teammates did a great job of finding me and we built off that.”

The Shockers found themselves trailing 61-52 halfway through the second half. Etienne was able to spark a comeback, as he nailed three consecutive shot attempts including two three-pointers which cut the deficit to one point.

Etienne continued his strong play throughout the second half, finishing with a career-high 26 points with 21 of those coming in the final 20 minutes of play. 

Etienne said that it was nice to see the first shot of the second half go through the net knowing that he struggled to contribute in the first half..

“My confidence doesn’t waver if that shot wouldn’t have gone in but knowing that we needed to have points on the board it was a good feeling,” Etienne said. “We just continued to play and everybody did their part.”

With the Shockers trailing for most of the second half, it was Etienne who was critical in turning that deficit into a seven-point lead. During WSU’s critical 24-8 run, Etienne scored 15 of those 24 points. 

“Tyson got it going and once he got it going, we rode it,” Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said. “He stepped up and made some big shots and he drove the ball well and got to the foul line. He played a big-time game. We needed that from him.”

Etienne’s new backcourt partner, graduate transfer Alterique Gilbert, also found some success on Wednesday tallying 18 points on 5-11 shooting in his Shocker debut. Although this was the first time Gilbert and Etienne had played together, Gilbert said he was impressed with Etienne’s performance. 

“He’s a tremendous shooter, he obviously can score,” Gilbert said. “It’s very helpful for me for him to be on my team. He creates a lot of opportunities for everybody, not just himself. You could see tonight, he can really shoot the ball.”

In the first half, the Shockers struggled to move the ball which resulted in only four assists. With some halftime adjustments, WSU doubled that total in the final 20 minutes of play.

“Yeah I think that just comes with a new team, a little jitters too as well,” Gilbert said. “We just had to settle down because I think everybody was kind of anxious, excited. We’ve been waiting for a while now and once we settled down, we started to move the ball a little bit, a little more fluidity on offense.”

Isaac Brown said the one the keys entering the game against ORU was to share the basketball. Brown said after those halftime adjustments, they were able to get better looks and have more success offensively. 

“We just wanted shot selection to be one of the top things, and I didn’t think we had a good shot selection early on. But later in the game, I thought some guys made some plays and drove the ball and were able to get some better shots.”

On Sunday, WSU will look to improve to 2-0 as they host Missouri inside of Charles Koch Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.