The year before Jody Adams took over as head coach for the Wichita State women’s basketball team, the Shockers went just 3-15 in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season.
Sunday afternoon, Adams and the top-seeded Shockers completed their turn around, winning their first ever MVC tournament title by beating the Redbirds of Illinois State 69-65 in a thrilling championship game at the Family Arena in St. Charles. The victory earns the Shockers a trip, their first ever, to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Following the game, Adams said she is proud of her team and program, “We hung through the momentum shifts. We knew that there were going to be those times. And how we endured that—we were able to switch that momentum to our way and sustain it there until the end of the game. ”
Adams also said that changing the program at Wichita State took an army, “When I was hired at Wichita State I had a vision. I always watched Wichita State from afar as a coach. And I knew it was a special place every time I visited. The people in the stands, the administration, the leadership...From then on it’s just been putting that vision into place.”
Stephanie Glance is the head coach for Illinois State. She talked about how close the game could have gone the other way, “(They) played a great game and I thought their players really stepped up. They hit a lot of tough shots—shots that you hit in championship games. We’re very disappointed. I felt like we were one rebound away from a championship. The lesson for our players is that, that’s how much the little thing matter.”
The game featured 7 lead changes and 6 ties.
From the start, it was a back and forth tilt. In fact, it featured a one-on-match up between Michaela Dapprich of Wichita State and Jammie Russell of third-seeded Illinois State.
Dapprich scored 10 of her team’s first 17 points. Meanwhile, Jamie Russell had 10 points within the first 6 and half minutes, she scored 14 of her team’s first 17 points, and had 16 points midway through the first half. Russell would end the first half with 20.
That was just the beginning of a great afternoon of basketball!
After having 1st half struggles in their quarter-final and semi-final games, the Shockers played more of an up-tempo game Sunday. In the quarter-final game, they led Drake by just 2 at the break, and in in their semi-final game against Northern Iowa Saturday, the Shockers trailed by 11 before pulling it out in overtime. In the title contest, the Shockers held on to a slim 40-39 lead at the half, but it wasn’t because of struggles. More so, it was the caliber of competition in Illinois State.
The second half featured a shift in focus for the Shockers offensively. Alex Harden, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored 11 of her 19 points when the game was on the line. Wichita State, which improves to 24-9 overall, was led by Harden and Russell, who also finished the game with 19-points. Chynna Turner had 12 points, and Jessica Diamond had 11.
Meanwhile, Illinois State saw their season come to an end, pending a post-season invite, with a 23-10 mark. They had 3 players in double digit scoring, led by Jamie Russell’s 27 points, Janae Smith’s 19, and Brianna Puni’s 12. Puni, a St. Charles native, also had 10 rebounds to earn a double-double.
Jody Adams used her bench quite a bit throughout the game. The Shockers outscored the Redbirds’ bench by the count of 15-5.
It was an amazing weekend of basketball at the Family Arena, which saw both semi-final games go into overtime, before the thrilling finale. Here is how the tournament broke down:
Thursday: Play-in Games
Drake beat Missouri State 81-68
Southern Illinois beat Evansville 83-74 (OT)
Friday: Quarter-Final Games
Wichita State over Drake 73-58
Northern Iowa beat Indiana State 71-60
Creighton took care of Southern Illinois 60-43
Illinois State knocked off Bradley 59-48
Wichita State over Northern Iowa 76-71 (OT)
Illinois State beat Creighton 64-61 (OT)
Sunday: Championship Game
Wichita State over Illinois State 69-65
At the completion of the tournament, the All-Tournament Team was selected. The players included:
Jacqui Kalin of Northern Iowa
Janae Smith of Illinois State
Michaela Dapprich of Wichita State
Jamie Russell of Illinois State
Alex Harden of Wichita State, who was also selected as the Most Outstanding Player.