Tyson Etienne leads WSU to close victory over Temple


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State players gather together at crunch time during the game against Temple at Charles Koch Arena on Feb. 7.

Wichita State narrowly escaped with a victory on Sunday, defeating Temple 70-67. The Shockers improve to 11-4 on the season and 7-2 in conference play with the win. 

With 1:08 left in the game, Temple controlled a one-point advantage but just as he’s done all season, sophomore Tyson Etienne delivered when WSU needed him the most. Etienne fought through a foul and connected on a critical layup to regain the Shockers’ lead. Etienne nailed the ensuing free throw to give WSU a two-point advantage in the final minute. 

Etienne went on to close out the game with a pair at the line, pushing his point total to a team-high 20 points. Etienne collected his eighth 20-point outing of the season in the victory.

“I just had to find a way to get a bucket,” Etienne said. “I saw the baseline empty on that side, everybody was loaded up on the other side, so I knew at least I could draw a foul. I put a lot of time in the weight room and was able to get it up in time. My teammates did a great job of moving without the ball and giving me the lane.”

Sophomore Clarence Jackson also made a crucial play in the final minute, drawing a charge on Temple’s J.P. Moorman with 26 seconds left. The Owls were then forced to foul and Alterique Gilbert’s free throws pushed WSU’s advantage to four points. 

Interim Head Coach Isaac Brown said that Jackson’s charge was his best defensive play of his Shocker career.

“He’s always in there battling, he competes, he plays hard,” he said. “He may make mistakes but the one thing about it, he’s going to give you 110% every time he’s out on the floor. That’s what we want, somebody giving 110% and it’s just about winning with him.”

The game was back-and-forth, with 20 lead changes. The 20 lead changes in the game, which was the sixth-most for the Shockers since a Dec. 2014 game against Hawaii. 

Temple kept the game close as they collected 17 offensive rebounds in the loss but their 39% shooting in the game was too much to overcome. 

“They got a lot of offensive rebounds, something we definitely have to clean up,” Etienne said. “We can’t allow a team to come into our building and get that many offensive rebounds. In terms of the rhythm, nobody really found the flow. It all came down to who made the hustle plays, who made shots at the end of the game. Sometimes basketball games come down to that. ”

Over the years, WSU has become one of the best at “winning ugly” and winning even when they struggle offensively. Coming into this year, WSU recorded the most wins when shooting under 40% in the country over the past two seasons.

Junior Dexter Dennis said that the team’s experience has been crucial in winning close games this season. 

“We’ve been battling a lot of adversity this year so the message in the locker room is always, stay in the moment and control what we can control,” Dennis said. I think in those moments it’s not panicking anymore. We’re a bit older so everybody just relaxes, takes a deep breath and just do what we can do to try to get a win.”

The Shockers won all three of its games on this homestand, following a road loss to Memphis by 20 points. 

Brown said this three-game winning streak can give the team confidence moving forward. 

“I’m getting more excited about the fact that these guys can battle for 40 minutes and still pull the game out,” Brown said. “Again, the other team is trying to win, they’re going to battle, Temple didn’t give up just like Tulane and Central Florida. I think it gives our guys a lot of confidence just knowing they can win games down the stretch no matter if they’re down eight, no matter if they’re up eight. They just continue to battle.”

The Shockers will travel to Orlando, Florida on Wednesday to take on Central Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.