After an entire season of limited attendance at the Koch Arena, the Wichita State men’s basketball team finally played in front of a full-sized crowd in Monday night’s exhibition game against Missouri Southern State.
WSU fans were treated to the usual ebb and flow of an exhibition match against a Division II opponent, as the Shockers had their fair share of promising stretches and sloppy play in a 90- 58 over Missouri Southern State.
It was a balanced scoring affair for WSU, which had eight players scoring between seven and 15 points in the team’s public debut against outside competition. After a slow start, first-year winger Ricky Council IV scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the second half and added four rebounds.
Morris Udeze (11 points) and Tyson Etienne (10 points, five rebounds, three assists) scored all their points in the first half, while Craig Porter added nine points and six rebounds, Chaunce Jenkins scored seven, freshman Kenny Pohto has nine points. and six rebounds, and Dexter Dennis added seven points to go along with five rebounds. Although Monzy Jackson went 0-for-4 on the field, he added six rebounds, a high for the team.
But the most impactful player of the game could very well have been Qua Grant, a 6-foot-1 junior goaltender playing in his first game for the Shockers after a double All-American career at Division II West Texas A&M. Grant brought speed to the WSU offense and made many timely plays finishing with 11 points on 5 of 7 shots and a record four assists in 19 minutes on the bench.
The first 11 minutes were about as sloppy as the offense might seem in an exhibition game against a Division II opponent, as the Shockers racked up seven turnovers on their first 19 possessions and followed Missouri Southern State. , 19-18.
It was Grant’s play that seemed to trigger the Shockers.
Grant’s layup kicked off a dominant final six minutes into the half for WSU, who outscored their opponents 20-4 during the streak to open a 46-28 lead to half-time. Grant had many highlights, including a smooth dump pass to Udeze for dunk and a mad run in the dying seconds of half time for a basket and foul. In total, Grant scored four points and finished with two assists in the blitz.
Most encouraging for the Shockers was that they weren’t counting on Etienne, who scored just two points in the 20-4 race to close the half. The score was balanced with Udeze (5), Chaunce Jenkins (5) and Council (4) playing a role.
Another encouraging sign for WSU was that after giving up four offensive rebounds early in the game, the Shockers secured every defensive rebound possible in the final 13 minutes of halftime.
Once WSU built a nearly 20 point lead in the first half, the rest of the game went about evenly, with WSU trading positive pushes with more sloppy games.
The Shockers will have a full week of practice before the regular season begins next Tuesday when WSU hosts Jacksonville State for a 7 p.m. game at Koch Arena.