Turnovers haunt WSU in one-point loss to Tulane


Rachel Rudisill / The Sunflower

Junior Qua Grant looks to drive down the court during the game against UCF on Jan. 22 in the Charles Koch Arena.

After rallying from a 15-point first half deficit, Wichita State was on the brink of consecutive wins for the first time in a month and a half. But the Shockers collapsed down the stretch in New Orleans, falling to Tulane on Saturday. 

WSU was in control for most of the second half and led by 13 points with 10:48 left to play. Turnovers and fouls haunted them late in the second, blowing their double-digit lead. 

The Shockers turned the ball over five times over the final five minutes and also fouled Jalen Cook on a potential game-winning three-pointer with six seconds left. Cook nailed all three free throws, sealing the 67-66 win. 

“We just had too many careless turnovers against a zone,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “It wasn’t just one person, it was a lot of guys. When you turn the basketball over, that’s what happens. We’ve got to be a smarter basketball team down the stretch, you can’t make silly turnovers. Silly turnovers cost us.”

This was the second one-point loss to Tulane this month, after Ricky Council IV’s potential game-winner was negated by a charging call on Jan. 12 in Wichita. It’s the first time WSU has lost to Tulane twice in a season since joining the AAC. They had never lost to the Green Wave prior to this season.

The Shockers are now off to a 1-5 conference start and sit in 10th place in the American. The loss was largely attributed to the team’s 19 turnovers – the most of any conference game this season. 

WSU players remain optimistic about the slow conference start, based on how close the games have been. In the Shockers’ last three losses, they have lost by a combined six points.

“We’re not getting blown out, we’re not losing by 10, we’re not losing by five, we’re losing by one, two, three point games,” sophomore Tyson Etienne said. “It’s just small details and I feel like there were a lot of details that we did well today but there were some details that we didn’t do well today. I think turning the basketball over the amount of times that we did in crucial moments really hurt us.”

This isn’t the first time WSU has started slow in conference play since joining the American. In the 2018-19 season, the Shockers started 1-6 in AAC play but finished the conference slate 9-2. 

This year’s team feels they’re close to turning these losses into wins – evident by these recent close losses. 

“You have to stay the course because we can’t say we’re going to throw the season away or quit,” Etienne said. “When you face adversity and your back’s against the wall, the only way is through. You can’t go around it, you can’t try and jump over it. You have to meet what’s happening head on. I feel like we are doing that.”

The Shocker backcourt of Craig Porter Jr. and Tyson Etienne thrived against Tulane’s zone scoring a combined 36 points, including a career-high seven three-pointers from Etienne.

Both players weren’t satisfied with their individual performances because of how important winning games are to them. After another disappointing loss, Porter said he’s confident that this team will get over the hump soon.

“It’s definitely hard at the moment but as basketball players you learn to move on,” Porter said. “Stuff like this, if you let it stick, it’ll keep becoming a problem. So, one of our main focuses is making sure we get over that hump and it’ll show in a big way. ”

The Shockers play three games over a five-day stretch next week, beginning Tuesday at home against Tulsa (8 p.m. ESPNU) and continuing with back-to-back games against SMU, Thursday in Dallas (6 p.m., ESPN+) and Saturday in Wichita (4 p.m., ESPNU).

“Every team in our league is about to go through a stretch where they play a lot of teams, but we’ve just got to go back, put this one behind us and you’ve got to learn from your mistakes,” Brown said. “If we don’t turn the basketball over, we win the game. We just had too many turnovers against a zone.”