The CBE Hall of Fame Classic Championship Game was just that, a classic, as it fielded two powerful teams that enjoy physically overpowering their opponents. The favored Shockers (aka the AP ranked team) may have won 75-62, but that was never a foregone conclusion.
The teams took turns terrorizing each other on defense and making crucial shots when it mattered. Even when WSU defensively shut down the Cougars near the end of the game, BYU continued to attack the basket and draw free throw attempts that they mostly made. The best example of this is Haws, who only made 3 of his 15 shots for the night, but banked all 11 of his free throw attempts.
Wichita State continued their trend of starting out games a little slow, as almost 8 minutes into the game the Cougars were up 19-6 as Matt Carlino and Eric Mika lead the way. Wichita State answered back with their own run grab a 26-23 with five minutes left in the first half. While neither team would go on another extensive run for the rest of the game, the back and forth play continued all the way through the game. By the end of the first half BYU held a narrow 36-34 lead.
Just looking at the box score for the second half is deceptive, as the 41-26 advantage to the Shockers seems massive, but it didn't feel that way until WSU efficiently scored at the line for the last minute of the game to put it away. With 5:51 left in the game it was still as close as 54-53 until three crucial shots by Fred VanVleet made the scoreboard read 62-57. At the same time, the Shocker defense was what really won the game for them as they didn't allow a single Cougar field goal for the last 8 and a half minutes.
WSU's leading scorer for the last three games has been Ron Baker, as he put up 23 points, 11 of which were free throws (including 6 to close out the game at the end). While his 2 for 11 three point line may be a little ugly, he was an offensive force for the Shockers who has continued to step up for his team. My game ball goes to Fred VanVleet, though, as he not only hit crucial late game shots to put Wichita State in the drivers seat, but also achieved his 12 points by shooting an efficient .500 on the game.
BYU was lead by Matt Carlino who put up 21 points with a 7 for 19 performance, as well as going 4 for 9 behind the arc.