Shockers snap four-game losing streak, collect first conference win of the season

Junior+Qua+Grant+looks+to+drive+during+the+game+against+UCF+on+Jan.+26+inside+Charles+Koch+Arena.

Rachel Rudisill / The Sunflower

Junior Qua Grant looks to drive during the game against UCF on Jan. 26 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State defeated Central Florida, 84-79 on Wednesday, securing their first conference win of the season and snapping a four-game losing skid. 

The win against UCF was the first win in over a month and was also the first time WSU played in 10 days, after the Shockers had two games postponed due to COVID-19 issues. WSU had a fully healthy roster against UCF for the first time in 18 days.

“That win might’ve felt better than any win I’ve ever had in my life,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “I’m just so excited these guys battled, it’s been a tough last four games. We’ve had four games in 34 days. I think the time off really helped those guys to focus, to get healthy.”

The Shockers took a double-digit lead in the first half for the third straight game, with the largest lead being 16 points with 9:53 left in the half. The Knights cut into the deficit to close out the half and only trailed by seven points after 20 minutes.  

WSU was able to weather UCF’s runs in the second half and ultimately held on for the five-point victory. After losing back-to-back games in which they held double-digit leads, the Shockers finished off a much needed win.

The Shockers shot 40% from the field and went 9-23 (39.1%) from beyond the arc. Ricky Council IV led the Shocker offense with a career-high 31 points off the bench. Council also went 16-20 from the free-throw line.

Council was the first Shocker since Markis McDuffie in the 2018-19 season to score 30 points. The freshman guard also attempted the third most free throws in a game by a Shocker.

“It just feels good to win,” Council said. We’ve been talking about it, scoring 30 was just a part of it. I was just tired of it so I just had to do what I had to do.”

It just feels good to win. We’ve been talking about it, scoring 30 was just a part of it. I was just tired of losing so I just had to do what I had to do.”

— Ricky Council IV

Council has switched his free throw routine this season to a simpler form and has paid dividends. He is now shooting 81.2% from the line this season, up from his 65.8% from the stripe last year. Council’s 16 free throw makes were also the third most in WSU history.

“My mindset is the more you hold it in your hand, the more you think about it in a tough situation,” Council said. “If you think about one little negative thought, my form will get shot.”

Two other Shockers reached double figure scoring, with Morris Udeze and Dexter Dennis combining for 28 points. Leading scorer Tyson Etienne struggled in the contest, scoring five points on 2-13 shooting. Etienne also went 1-8 from downtown. 

On the other side of things, UCF finished the game shooting 40.6% from the field and 38.5% from downtown. Brandon Mahan led the way with 20 points.

Up next, the Shockers return home for a matchup with Tulane on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.