Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wichita State Rides Fast Start into Title Game

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wichita State Rides Fast Start into Title Game

Article excerpt

The drought that started the game reached epic proportions, and the numbers indicated it wasn't a fluke.

Wichita State's defense stymied Illinois State in both of their regular-season meetings with the Shockers winning each time.

But it never got this bad.

The Redbirds opened Saturday's Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinal without a field goal on their first 20 possessions. They missed their first 13 shots and trailed 17-1 after nine minutes.

And although Illinois State eventually snagged a brief lead before halftime, the tone had been set and the damage done as the Shockers advanced to Sunday's championship game with a 66-51 win.

"This is a defensive effort that can get you to a championship game and hopefully help win it," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.

The Shockers held the Redbirds without a field goal for the first 12 minutes 35 seconds and limited them to 29 percent for the game.

Nevertheless, Illinois State rallied to briefly take the lead late in the first half and early in the second. Then Carl Hall took over, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second half as Wichita State (26-7) pulled away again.

"They pressured us more at the start," Illinois State coach Dan Muller said, referencing previous meetings. "They jumped on us. They extended their defense more than at our place. They came out ready to roll and we turned the ball over. I thought we got decent shots in that stretch that we didn't make."

In the three meetings, Illinois State shot 32 percent and made 23 percent of its 3-pointers. And maybe most significant, guard Tyler Brown struggled in each outing.

He entered the game having topped 20 points in eight of the last nine games. But Wichita State's Tekele Cotton held him to nine points on 1-of-6 shooting. Brown was 11 for 38 (29 percent) against the Shockers this season.

"I'm going to do an addendum to get him individually added to the (MVC) all-defensive team," Marshall said. "It's a travesty he's not on that team. …

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