Unbeaten Wichita St. heads in NCAA tournament after milestone victory
Paul Suellentrop, The Wichita Eagle
Dec 15, 2015 at 2:39 PM
ST. LOUIS (MCT) – History didn't come easily for Wichita State.
Well, not as easily as most. Perhaps that made it sweeter.
No. 2 Wichita State is 34-0 and will take more wins into the NCAA Tournament than any team in the event's 76-year history. The Shockers defeated Indiana State 83-69 on Sunday in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center. It is WSU's first tournament title since 1987 and its first in St. Louis, where the tournament moved in 1991.
The second-seeded Sycamores pushed the top-seeded Shockers, who routed their first two opponents. Indiana State (23-10) got within five points midway through the second half and within nine, 69-58, on Justin Gant's banked-in three with 4:13 remaining.
Dawon Cummings' three cut the lead to 72-64 with 3:05 to play.
Then Fred VanVleet closed things down as the crowd chanted "MVP."
He answered Cummings' three with one near the end of the shot clock. Lucas Eitel responded with a three to make it 75-67.
VanVleet kept coming. He made a twisting layup for a 78-67 lead. He stripped Indiana State's Manny Arop and drove the length of the court for another layup and an 80-67 lead.
The crowd chanted "Undefeated."
VanVleet led WSU with 22 points. Cotton added 20. Arop and Gant both scored 18 for Indiana State.
Wichita State missed eight straight shots after taking a 44-29 lead and Indiana State's solid defense got it back in the game. The Sycamores cut WSU's lead to 47-42 before it stumbled.
Dawon Cummings missed one of two foul shots. VanVleet took advantage of a switch to make a three over a bigger defender, Gant. Gant then missed an uncontested shot at the rim. The Shockers rushed down court to find Cotton open in the corner for a three and a 53-43 lead.
Wichita State led 39-29 at halftime. An 11-0 run proved decisive and started after referees review video and assessed Indiana State's Devonte Brown with a flagrant one foul after he hit Ron Baker with a his forearm as Baker rounded a screen with a pass on the way. The blow staggered Baker and Brown picked up the loose ball and drew a foul while attempting a layup. He made one foul shot to cut WSU's lead to 12-11 with 13:54 to play.
After the review, Baker made two free throws for a 14-11 lead. With the possession, Carter set a screen for Baker and Sycamores center Justin Gant switched to guard Baker. Baker missed a three, but Carter grabbed the rebound over Odum, who had to take him after the switch. His follow shot made it 16-11. Early scored on a lob off an inbound play and Cotton's three made it 21-11 Chadrack Lufile completed the run with a basket for a 23-11 lead.
Wichita State pushed the lead to 35-22 with 5:28 to play in the half when Carter followed in his miss.
Carter came off the bench to score nine first-half points. Cotton led WSU with 10.
Manny Arop led the Sycamores with nine points in the first half. The Sycamores made 7 of 12 free throws in the half.