Courtesy of Wichita State Athletics
Tyson Etienne’s last-second three from the center court logo lifted Wichita State to a 60-57 season-opening victory over Jacksonville State at Charles Koch Arena.
Tied at 57 with less than 20 seconds remaining, WSU (1-0) put the ball in the hands of its star. Etienne bled the clock inside of five seconds then surprised everyone in the building by pulling up for a long three (officially 31-feet-9-1/2 inches from the rim).
“It didn’t really feel like an out-of-normal shot,” Etienne said. “I was confident I would make it because I’ve made it so many times (in practice).”
The shot splashed through the net with 2.2 seconds remaining.
“Tyson loves taking shots late in the game,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “He wants the ball in his hands. He want to be the one to make the decision. And tonight he stepped up and made a deep, deep three that we really needed.”
“I’m just grateful we won the game,” said Etienne, who finished with a game-high 16 points. “Getting us off on the right foot, getting us the win.”
His heroics came on a night when he and his Shocker teammates otherwise struggled with their long-range shooting. Prior to the last shot, Etienne had made just 1-of-6 threes and WSU was a chilly 3-of-21 as a team.
“Most good players have confidence,” Brown noted. “I don’t care how many times they miss shots. They think the next one’s going to go in. And that’s what you’ve got to do in order to be a great player.”
Dexter Dennis added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds for WSU (1-0), which shot just 38.6 percent overall but converted 12-of-14 free throws.
Freshman big man Kenny Pohto missed shoot around due to illness but stepped up with eight points on three dunks, two steals and a block in 18 minutes.
Kayne Henry paced JSU (0-1) with 15 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting and Darian Adams added 14 points and eight assists.
The Gamecocks shot 42.3 percent including 8-of-20 from distance but converted just 5-of-11 at the foul line.
The Shockers outrebounded the Gamecocks 37-31 and outscored them 15-4 on second-chance opportunities. They also won the turnover battle, forcing 17 while committing just 11. Eight different Shockers combined for 10 steals.
JSU scored the game’s first six points and led nearly the entire first half.
The Shockers briefly tied it at 19 when Morris Udeze sank his first career three and added a layup the next trip down.
Henry answered with back-to-back triples and the Gamecocks took a 27-23 advantage into halftime.
The second half followed a similar script. JSU answered each Shocker rally with a timely basket.
Joe Pleasant’s putback with 14:15 to go gave WSU its first lead of the night, 36-34, but the Shockers went another four minutes without a field goal.
Henry drilled two more threes to help JSU build a 45-41 edge near the 9:00-mark.
The Shockers scored the next eight points. Clarence “Monzy” Jackson found a cutting Dennis. On the next trip down, Etienne threaded to Pohoto for a transition dunk. Dennis made two free throws and Etienne peeled off a screen for a 15-foot jumper and a 49-45 Shocker lead with 7:04 to play.
JSU responded with a 6-0 push, capped by Henry’s steal and dunk to go up 51-49 near the 5:00-mark.
The teams traded baskets from there. Pleasant muscled inside for a basket to tie the game at 55 with 1:11 left.
The Shockers forced a defensive stop, and Etienne made a driving layup for a 57-55 advantage with 30 seconds on the clock.
Out of a timeout, the Gamecocks’ Jalen Finch converted a tough baseline drive to tie the game at 57 with 28 seconds left.
That set up Etienne’s heroics.
The Shockers extended their home winning streak to 10 games, going back to last season.
WSU is 86-29 all-time in season openers, including 62-15 since World War II.
The Shockers have won eight straight regular season games going back to January of last season.
WSU improved to 58-8 in home openers at the Roundhouse, including 18-1 post-renovation.
The Shockers now lead the all-time series 2-0 over JSU. The two wins have come by a combined eight points.
Tyson Etienne has made at least one free throw in 25 straight games.
Wichita State plays host to South Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Charles Koch Arena. The 3 p.m. CT tip airs on ESPN+. Tickets are available at goshockers.com/tickets or by calling 978-FANS (3267).