(ST. LOUIS, Mo.)—Wichita State used 10 players Friday night, and all 10 of them scored. The Shockers out-rebounded Missouri State by 19, and they never trailed in the second half.
But they were tested all night against a surprisingly resilient Bears team, which was coming back from a hard-fought victory from the night before to even reach the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals. The Shockers finished strong to come out with a 69-59 victory, advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. Waiting for the Shockers is Illinois State, and Kansas native Jackie Carmichael. The Redbirds knocked off Northern Iowa 73-65.
WSU overcame a 25-point performance by MSU freshman Marcus Marshall, whose 3-pointer tied the game at 46 with eight minutes remaining. An 8-0 Shocker run followed, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.
NCAA Tournament resume for WSU (25-7). But three straight losses and a season-ending loss to the Bears (11-22), who set a school record for most defeats in a season, surely would have hurt it.
“I’m not sure we got better as a basketball team at this stage of the game,” Shocker coach Gregg Marshall said.
But the Shockers got deeper according to Marshall, with the return of freshman Ron Baker.
Baker, who missed 21 games with a stress fracture, scored 15 points and sank three 3-pointers as the Shockers broke a tie game to build a 10-point lead early in the second half.
“He was tremendous,” Shocker senior Demetric Williams said. “We missed his 3-point shooting and he showed it tonight. A lot of guys in the locker room said, ‘He’s back.’”
WSU forward Carl Hall had his seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Jake White added nine points and eight rebounds.
“I was just trying to tell Jake just go for every rebound, because I knew the ball would bounce long,” Hall said. “… I noticed it was doing that in the pregame, too.”
Williams was proud of the Shockers’ defensive effort, saying it was their goal to keep the Bears to less than 60 points. The Shockers held MSU to 37.2 percent shooting, even though Marshall – the Valley’s Freshman of the Year - made 13 of 16 free throws.
“He’s got a very mature pulse to him,” MSU coach Paul Lusk said of Marshall. “He doesn’t get rattled.”
The Bears committed just five turnovers to WSU’s 11.
It marks the fourth straight season the Shockers have won 25 games. WSU also won a game in the Valley Tournament for the fifth straight year.
The Shockers out-rebounded MSU 43-24. In their three games against the Bears this season, the Shockers own a rebounding advantage of 131-78. Friday, the Shockers got 20 offensive rebounds.
“Well, that’s Wichita,” Lusk said. “Their best offense sometimes is a missed shot and it was certainly true today. … Our guys didn’t back down. Our guys played, and it’s just the grind of the game and those physical bodies. I thought they were the aggressors most of the day. They’re going to wear you down.”