‘We can learn from this game:’ Shockers show resilience in road victory against South Florida


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State sophomore Tyson Etienne looks to get the inbound pass during the game against ESU at Charles Koch Arena on Dec. 18.

Wichita State found themselves struggling offensively after 20 minutes of play against South Florida. WSU was shooting 28% from the field and the starting lineup had only 10 points combined. 

Despite their offensive struggles, the Shockers trailed by only seven points at the break. USF faced similar struggles and shot 33% from the field in the first half. 

Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said that the seven-point halftime deficit instilled some hope for the team. 

“We told them at halftime, we hadn’t played Shocker basketball and we’re only down seven,” Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said. “If we just clean up our mistakes, we can win this game. We wanted to try to get some easy baskets. We were struggling to score in the half-court with them because they’re a big, physical team.”

The Shockers were able to flip a switch offensively in the second half and took its first lead with 7:37 left in the game. The Shockers took a 69-64 lead with 17 seconds left to play. 

In the final minute, USF’s David Collins’ responded with a four-point play which cut WSU’s lead to one point. After Trey Wade split a pair from the line, Collins attempted a three-pointer just before the clock was set to expire. 

Right as the Shockers prepared to celebrate their victory, Collins went 2-3 from the free-throw line, forcing overtime. 

“The one thing I told them after the game is that we can learn from this game,” Brown said. “The game is never over. If you’re up 12 with 34 seconds left, the game is not over. You can’t celebrate.”

Just as they did after their first half struggles, WSU was able to quickly regroup in the five minute overtime period. The Shockers were able to outscore USF 12-7 in overtime, securing the 82-77 victory. 

“The one thing we’re going to take into Christmas is just learning from this game, finding a way to win in overtime,” Brown said. “Once we got in the huddle and the regulation was over and we had five more minutes, we told them to forget about the first and second half, that’s done with. Let’s find a way to win these five minutes.”

Junior Craig Porter, Jr. stepped up to play in the overtime period. He tallied five of his seven points in those five minutes and played a crucial part in WSU’s close victory. 

Porter Jr. said that his performance gave him confidence that he could continue to improve as the season unfolds. 

“My whole career, I’ve always been a pass-first guy, always looking for my teammates and just reading the game however it comes to me,” Porter, Jr. said. “Really I think this will boost my confidence a lot as far, just helping my team overall. No matter what it has to be, from scoring to rebounding. I’ll just do whatever it takes to get on the floor and help my team win.”

Sophomore Tyson Etienne also played a critical part in the second-half comeback, scoring 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and overtime. 

Etienne said that Brown’s confidence in the team and their ability to turn it around was pivotal in the victory. 

“It means the world that he believes in us. At the end of the day, we all know we can shoot,” Etienne said. “Sometimes players go through tough stretches, sometimes teams go through tough stretches. It’s part of the game of basketball. Coach never loses confidence in us.

“Coach believes in us and we believe in each other. To have that voice on the sideline along with other voices on our staff is a great thing to have.” 

Even with the adversity throughout the game against USF, Etienne said that the team remained motivated in pulling out the victory. 

“What you can always control is how hard you play,” Etienne said. “We just stuck together and said we have to play with our heart. It comes from within. We can do anything we put our minds to if we’re willing to give everything we got on every possession and we did that down the stretch.”

The Shockers will return to Charles Koch Arena on Dec. 30 to take on East Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.