Wichita St. beats Missouri St., wins 3rd straight Missouri Valley title

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Michaela Dapprich is at it again.

The Wichita State forward continued her usual late-season surge with 24 points as the Shockers beat Missouri State 85-71 on Sunday for their third straight Missouri Valley title and another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Alex Harden led top-seeded Wichita State (29-4) with 27 points. Jamillah Bonner added 18 points, Kelsey Jacobs had 10 to help the Shockers win their 12th straight game.

Tyonna Snow led third-seeded Missouri State (18-14) with 19 points, Kenzie Williams had 17, and Liza Fruendt 10. The Bears had won 10 games in a row.

Dapprich was selected as the MVC player of the week for the last week of the regular season.

"I've just been feeling strong," she said. "I'd like to say I wait until the end of every season to play my best, but it just happens that way. Everything falls into place toward the end."

Dapprich has spent her first three seasons in the shadow of Harden, who was selected as tournament MVP.

But the Shockers wouldn't be making their third successive NCAA tournament appearance without the 5-foot-10 Dapprich.

"She got into a rhythm today," coach Jody Adams said. "Today was an offense game and track race. She's a great shooter."

Added Harden, "She's always there when we need her the most. She's a four-man mismatch. You can't guard her outside and when you do, she can post up."

Dapprich hit on 10 of 14 shots from the field. She suffered a broken hand as a freshman before rallying to close strong. She also struggled for a while last season.

Wichita State used an 18-8 run at the start of the second half to take a 56-43 lead. Dapprich closed the run with a 3-pointer and a short jumper.

Bonner started the blitz with six points in the first 3 minutes and 31 seconds to push the lead to 46-38. Harden added a conventional 3-point play and Bonner sank two foul shots before Dapprich took over.

Wichita State led 38-35 at the break.

"Coach challenged us at half to come out and play better defense," Harden said. "She was upset that we let them score 35 points in the first half. We had to get better on defense."

Missouri State, which dropped all three games to Wichita State this season, overcame an early nine-point deficit to get close at the half. A basket by Snow in the closing seconds capped off a 14-8 run over the final 5:59 of the half.

"This team has done a lot of positive things and I'm proud of them," Missouri State coach Kellie Harper said. "I told them how much fun I've had coaching them this year."

Snow felt like her team deserves an at-large berth in the WNIT when the pairings are announced Monday.

"We've proven that we can play," Snow said. "We do deserve a spot. If we get that, we can take advantage of it."

The Shockers have won their last nine games in St. Charles. The tournament will move to Moline, Illinois, next season after an eight-year run in St. Charles.

"There's an energy and an interest in the Quad Cities that we haven't seen in quite a while," MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin said. "The tournament just hasn't grown here."