"FINAL FOOOOUUUUR! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP-CLAP-CLAP! YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO WAR...WITH THE SHOOOOOOOOCKERS! DON'T START NO STUFF, WON'T BE NO STUFF!" The sea of yellow that was Wichita State fans exploded when the clock struck double zero.
In front of a 75/25 pro-Ohio State crowd, Wichita State did what they do best, play physical basketball, completely dominating the Buckeyes for a period and a third. And when Ohio State found life and started to fight back, going on a 25-9 run, Wichita State started to play scrappy, like the little engine that could. That engine not only just believed that they could, they did.
Gregg Marshall got on the podium, went behind his players, pointed to his fans and gave them a Hollywood thank-you kiss, acknowledging them. Carl Hall was named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team, and Malcolm Armstead was named Most Outstanding Player.
The victory was not just one for the team, it was also one for the Missouri Valley Conference as well. With the Shockers Final Four appearance, it will be the MVC's first since Indiana State's 1979 Tournament run, in which the Sycamores fell in the National Title game.
The Buckeyes looked overwhelmed in the first half, despite out-sizing the Shockers, as Wichita State's defense provided so much hectic chaos, that any response from a player's sloppy defense earning a mediocre foul, drew the perfect "O" face from shocked Buckeye players.
You want to fully realize how frustrated the Shockers made Ohio State? Off a weak foul called by the referees, Thad Matta was in the referees face, a good minute or so the after the final buzzer had gone off. After constant screaming for about 30 seconds, Matta stormed off the court, in front of gleeful Shocker fans, his face as red as his tie.
Deshaun Thomas was the only high point in the first half for the Buckeyes, scoring 9 points, while the team as a whole shot 24.2%. Wichita State was all over the boards as well, collecting 27 rebounds compared to Ohio State's 17 at the half.
After the second half began, the Shockers continued their dominance on the board, leaving the Buckeyes looking dazed and confused, like miscreant teenagers high in a Kansas wheat field. Then Cleanthony Early went down and out with an injury, giving the Buckeyes an opportunity to strike back.
All of a sudden the Buckeyes became more aggressive, causing Wichita State to commit sloppy fouls. Early came back in, but Ohio State continued on a 25-9 onslaught. As the team from the Big 10 was looking bigger and stronger (as it probably should have), it was an unorthodox, disjointed play, with one minute left in the game, that effectively ended the game.
Fred Van Vleet missed a three-point field goal badly, Tekele Cotton dove and rebounded, tossing it back to Van Vleet, who bounced it in for two. A quarter of Staples Center exploded, and in the most twisted sound wave you could possibly hear, from court-side, it was almost as loud as the whole Buckeye contingency.
The Buckeyes wound up only making 31.1% of their shots, with Thomas scoring 23 points and LaQuinton Ross adding 19 points in 22 minutes off the bench. The Shockers, on the flip side, shared the ball effectively: Armstead collected 14 points, Early and Van Vleet both had 12 and Cotton added ten. Ron Baker, who celebrated his 20th birthday with a historic win, the pep band playing with fans singing "Happy Birthday", scored nine points (going 9-9 from the charity line) and four rebounds.
Let the mid-majors rejoice, the Shockers are headed to the Promised Land.