Saturday’s "Arch Madness" action gave everyone the final match up that was expected to decide the Missouri Valley Conference championship. Wichita State dominated against Missouri State and Indiana State squeaked by Southern Illinois. These two teams will face off for the third time this season. The Shockers have won the two previous match ups by double-digits. Here is a recap of Saturday’s action in St. Louis.
#1 Wichita State Shockers 67, #4 Missouri State Bears 42
Wichita State had another dominating performance on Saturday against Missouri State. After three long minutes of both teams not scoring, the Bears scored the first basket of the game, but that was their only accomplishment of the game. From that point, the Shockers took control of the game.
The Shockers went on a 17-0 run to create a double-digit lead that they never relinquished. They hit five 3-pointers during this run. Shockers forward Cleanthony Early hit two of the threes, guard Tekele Cotton hit two and Ron Baker hit one during this run. Wichita State finished the game hitting 45 percent of their 3-pointers. After this long run, the Shockers were up 30-12 with 3:05 left in the first half.
Missouri State struggled all game. None of their players scored in double figures. They could not hit a shot in the first half. Wichita State’s defense also contributed to the poor shooting performance for the Bears. The Shockers forced 12 turnovers against the Bears.
The Bears also lost two key players due to injury. Bears guard Keith Pickens left the game in the first half with a leg injury and leading scorer Jarmar Gulley left the game with a jaw injury after colliding with a Wichita State player. The Bears had some bad luck, but Wichita State did not let up on the gas either.
A 24-0 run extended the Shockers lead to 28 points with 8:58 left in the second half. This team is clicking on all cylinders; they are unselfish, disciplined and well-coached. They are trying to eliminate any doubter who still believe that they are not a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. These past two games have shown what they are capable of game to game. This display of dominance on both ends of the floor is impressive.
WSU head coach Gregg Marshall has instill in his team the philosophy of making the extra pass. His team made plenty of extra passes on Saturday to give Early and Cotton plenty of open looks from beyond the arc. The Shockers have done all of the little things right.
"We're pleased to be moving into the championship game. I thought we shared the ball very, very well," said Marshall. "We were slow getting started offensively, but we loosened that up and finally hit a couple shots. Cle was tremendous tonight. Tekele is really shooting the ball well, and we're sharing it. We had 14 assists on 25 baskets. The defense was certainly there as well."
The Shockers advance to the Missouri Valley Conference championship game on Sunday. They will play the Indiana State Sycamores at 2:05 p.m. eastern time.
#2 Indiana State Sycamore 62, #6 Southern Illinois Salukis 59
Southern Illinois guard Desmar Jackson shot a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left, but missed the shot giving the Sycamores the victory and opportunity to end the Shockers undefeated season. Indiana State barely got by the Salukis. It took a huge effort by Sycamore’s star Jake Odum and a tip in by guard Khristian Smith with 14 seconds left to win the game.
It was a tight game through the first half. The Sycamores had an early lead, but after a Salukis timeout, Southern Illinois took a 16-15 lead with 8:13 left in the first half. After SIU took a five point lead, Indiana State guard Justin Gant made some key three-pointers and buckets to keep the game within a basket.
Odum opened the second half with a personal 6-0 run to give the Sycamores a 36-30 lead early in the second half. His personal run gave the Sycamores some momentum in the second half, but the Salukis were still in the game.
Desmar Jackson hit a layup with 3:13 left in the second half to cut Indiana State’s lead to 2. The game became a bit of a standstill for a couple of minutes until Odum went one of two for the free throw line to give the Sycamores a 3 point lead.
"My teammates were doing a nice job moving on offense, which was allowing me gaps to get in there," said Odum on his performance today. "Like I said, I got it going yesterday, shots were flowing, and it was a great feeling out there."
The Sycamores will advance to the MVC finals to take on the Wichita State Shockers on Sunday. The MVC Tournament championship will be at 2:05 p.m. eastern time. The Sycamores will try to end Wichita State’s undefeated season.
"We're going to give it everything we have, and if it's not good enough, they go into the tournament undefeated with a great chance to win the whole thing," said ISU head coach Greg Lansing.