Wichita State’s offensive struggles prove costly in loss to North Texas

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Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

Athletic trainer Todd Fagan helps junior Craig Porter Jr. off the court after injuring his ankle. Porter scored a team-high of 10 points in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Wichita State fell to North Texas, 62-52, on Saturday, snapping a 14-game winning streak at home, while also damaging WSU’s resume. 

The Shockers offensive struggles continued in the loss, with a 13 minute scoreless drought that proved costly. North Texas responded with a 20-0 run that turned a 10-point deficit into a double-digit lead.

“It’s time to look ourselves in the mirror, each one of us and figure out what we can do better to help the team,” junior Morris Udeze said. “Everybody has to sacrifice at the end of the day. We’re just trying to hold each other accountable in practice and give our full effort every day. At the end of the day, it’s time to bounce back from these losses.”

WSU returned to some bad habits that’ve haunted them during these early season struggles. The Shockers were forced into taking contested jump shots and turned the ball over 12 times in the second half, which ultimately cost them the game.

Even with some made baskets down the stretch, the Shockers finished the game shooting 36.5% from the field and 28.6% from downtown.

“It wasn’t like they were pressing us, it wasn’t like they were trapping us, it was just us dribbling off our foot, us trying to make a pass that they got their hands on,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “We just turned it over too much. In college basketball, if you turn it over 12 times in one half, you’re not going to win the game.”

Freshman Ricky Council IV drives the ball down the court to the basket against North Texas. North Texas upset Wichita State, 60-52, on Dec. 18. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

These long scoring droughts have become a regularity during the past three games – most notably during the loss to Kansas State on Dec. 5. Junior Craig Porter Jr. said that it’s important for players to remain active in the offense beyond scoring or dribbling the ball.

“I feel like we all have to try to get involved in other ways than dribbling the ball and just any way we can get our motion type of offense,” Porter said. “Really just listening to coaches, executing and just playing for each other.”

The Shockers remain optimistic for offensive improvement despite the results not coming. WSU had positive offensive stretches on Saturday which included a seven-point halftime lead but haven’t sustained it for a full 40 minutes this season.

“We’re going to figure it out, we just have to keep learning each other’s games and stop going on droughts for 6-7 minutes,” Udeze said. “We have all the talent in the room to not go on those types of droughts and obviously those droughts hurt us bad in the process. If you’re not scoring they’re scoring.”

After stealing the ball from North Texas on Dec. 18, junior Dexter Dennis drives the ball down the court to make a lay-up. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

Porter suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of the scoring drought but the officials didn’t stop the play. The Shockers turned the ball over the ensuing possession and UNT converted on a three to help shift the momentum. 

Porter returned to the game, despite not being 100% and finished with a career-high 12 points.

“I’ll try to make a speedy recovery, especially for these guys,” Porter said. “I’ll lay my life out on the line for them so I’m trying to get back as soon as I can.”

The loss to UNT hurts WSU’s tournament resume, as the Mean Green entered the game No. 95 in NET. 

“It hurts,” sophomore Ricky Council IV said. “Just thinking about March, even though they’re a good team, that’s a bad loss for us. It was a given game, we paid them to come here and we just folded at the end. Credit to them.”

The Shockers will return to action on Wednesday, as they take on Prairie View A&M. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m and will be broadcast on ESPN+.