Wichita State Wins Back-and-Forth Battle, 70-65
Wichita State, a 2013 Final Four participant, improved to 8-0, while Saint Louis slipped to 6-2.
Evans was joined in double figures by Mike McCall Jr. (12 points), Jordair Jett (12) and Rob Loe (11). Evans tied for team-high rebounding honors with Loe (five), for the team lead in assists with Jett (four) and for the team steals lead with Jett and McCall Jr. (three).
Wichita State’s Ron Baker tallied game highs of 22 points and four steals and added six rebounds for the Shockers, who earned a 38-27 advantage on the glass.
Chadrack Lufile had 12 points and eight rebounds, Cleanthony Early scored 12 points, Tekele Cotton recorded 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet tossed in 10 points to go with a game-high six assists.
The Billikens registered a season-high 12 steals, forcing the Shockers – who came in averaging fewer than 10 turnovers per game – into 18 miscues. That helped SLU earn a 25-8 advantage in points off turnovers. However, the Billikens shot just 39.6 percent overall and 26.3 percent from 3-point range.
“It was a hard-fought game,” SLU head coach Jim Crews said. “You really had to earn everything from playing Wichita. I think they had to earn everything playing against us. It was a game of swings. They made the last swing, which was obviously advantageous to them.
“They’re a good team,” Crews said. “We think that we’re a pretty good team, and hopefully we’ll keep getting better. I’m disappointed that we lost, but I saw a lot of good things out there from our guys.”
“Just a war,” Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. “It was a great basketball game – two very, very tough teams. I’m just glad it was a 40-minute game and not 43 because their run was coming next. It was just a game of runs.
“I think it’s just a good series for us to be playing,” Marshall said. “The last thing I said to Jim – I said before the game and after the game – let’s make a pact to be in the same regional. They’ll be a tournament team and with all those five seniors, they’re really good. I just hope we’re there with them, and maybe we can see each other again.”
A 9-2 spurt, including five points from Baker, at the outset of the second half allowed Wichita State to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 37-31 lead.
Evans began and ended a 9-0 run, which also included two McCall Jr. free throws and a Loe 3-pointer, that pushed SLU into a 40-37 edge.
After a Wichita State free throw and a basket evened the count at 40, Evans netted eight of the next nine Saint Louis points for a 49-44 advantage. A 7-0 run shifted the lead back to the Shockers, 51-49.
The Bills punched back with a 9-0 flurry, ignited when John Manning nailed a jumper following a loose-ball scramble. Jett sank two free throws, and Evans made a steal and a layup followed by two free throws. A Jett charity toss put Saint Louis in front 58-51.
Wichita State’s decisive run began with six consecutive free throws. Early’s trey that put Wichita State on top 60-58 was answered by Jett’s 3-pointer, and Jett countered another Early trifecta with a pull-up jumper that knotted the score at 63.
After Baker and McCall Jr. traded free throws, Baker gave the Shockers the lead for good, 66-64, with a layup. The Billikens rebounded two missed 3-pointers on the ensuing possession, and Jake Barnett made one of two free throws after drawing a foul on an inbounds play.
Early’s layup gave Wichita State a 68-65 edge, and Barnett’s 3-point attempt was partially blocked. VanVleet converted twice from the stripe with 3.2 seconds left to secure the victory.
Saint Louis survived a 17-0 Wichita State run – during which the Billikens suffered 13 consecutive scoreless possessions – to earn a 29-28 lead at intermission.
SLU enjoyed its own run to begin the game, sprinting to an 8-0 advantage on two McCall Jr. 3-pointers sandwiched around a Loe layup.
After two Baker free throws and a VanVleet layup cut the lead in half, Saint Louis used an 8-3 spurt to build a 16-7 advantage. Loe’s bank shot and layup were followed by an Austin McBroom jumper and Jett’s runner, and it was 16-7 Billikens.
Baker and Lufile tallied seven and six points, respectively, to fuel the 17-0 outburst that put Wichita State in front 24-16.
McBroom finally ended the Saint Louis drought by nailing a 3-pointer, a basket that sparked an 11-0 Billiken flurry.
Barnett sank two free throws, Jett drove for a bucket, and McBroom’s pull-up jumper put the Bills back on top. A Dwayne Evans dunk punctuated the run and made it 27-24 SLU.
VanVleet connected on a jumper, and Early’s dunk gave the Shockers a 28-27 edge. On SLU’s final possession, Loe collected an offensive rebound and scored to make it a one-point Billiken lead at the break.The Billikens return to action Tuesday, Dec. 3, hosting Rockhurst at 7:30 p.m.