A question entering Wednesday night’s game against Jacksonville State was how Wichita State, a team with only two seniors, would compete against one of the nation’s most experienced teams.
Junior college transfer Jaime Echenique was the answer for the Shockers.
Echenique scored WSU’s first six points of the game, as WSU’s guards pounded the ball inside to the 6-foot-11 junior.
“I just wanted to go as hard as possible and try to take advantage of my size,” Echenique said.
Jacksonville State did not double-team the post, and so Echenique made them pay for it, scoring 10 points in the first half. He played just nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
“It’s good that he was able to get that ball down take his time and stick it in the basket,” WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall said.
Marshall said after being out-rebounded in WSU’s 32-point loss to Oklahoma, rebounding was a priority. WSU out-rebounded Jacksonville State by 10. Markis McDuffie had nine boards, Morris Udeze and Dexter Dennis each had eight, Echenique had seven, and 6-foot guard Samajae Haynes-Jones had six.
“They’re not a big team and that is their only demise,” Marshall said of Jacksonville State. “I thought we did a really good job of checking them off the glass as they are normally a very good offensive rebounding team.”
After Echenique got in foul trouble late in the first half Udeze came in and provided much-needed post presence. Udeze added eight points to the stat sheet. Udeze lauded Echenique for helping him maintain the rhythm in the post.
““He [Echenique] told me the passes were coming late, so seal in, get the ball and make a move,” Udeze said. “We tell each other things we can do to get easy baskets around the rim, get baskets.
“It’s really good to have someone older than you with experience.”
Echenique, who is in his first year with WSU, is the team’s most experienced post-player. Only sophomore Asbjørn Midtgaard has more than a year of experience in the post. Echenique said he’s made it a priority to educate his teammates.
“I try to help everybody develop,” Echenique said. “I’m a junior and he’s (Udeze) a freshman, he’s got a long way to go.”
Leading by a single point with a little more than a minute remaining, Haynes-Jones hit a key three-point shot to open the Shockers’ lead to four points.
“I was wide open. I just had to relax, do my routine and knock it down,” Haynes-Jones said. “When I saw it leave my hand, I knew it was a bucket.”
Dennis had the offensive rebound that led to Haynes-Jones open three-point basket.
“I love the fact that Dexter got the rebound that starts the whole play,” Marshall said.
Facing full-court pressure in the final minute of the game, Ricky Torres through a home run pass to Haynes-Jones who beat the Jacksonville State defender and finished the easy two-handed dunk to put the game out of reach.
McDuffie, the team’s only four-year senior, struggled offensively scoring 11 points on 3-15 shooting.
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