Wichita State is 3-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
The Shockers handled Western Carolina 79-63 in its first game of the Cancun Challenge on Thursday at Koch Arena.
Cleathony Early came off the bench to lead WSU with 21 points and eight rebounds. Carl Hall added 16 points. The Shockers made 20 straight free throws before guard Fred VanVleet missed in the final two minutes. WSU’s record for most in a game without a miss is 17 for 17, set last season at Creighton. It finished Thursday’s game 26 of 27 from the line.
Trey Sumler led Western Carolina (1-2) with 18 points.
Western Carolina cut the lead to 56-43 early in the second half, prompting another run by WSU. Demetric Williams swished a three from the top of the key and WSU outscored the Catamounts 7-2 before a timeout. When Western Carolina again cut the lead to 13, Evan Wessel’s three started a 7-0 run in the final minutes.
Two suffocating stretches of defense highlighted the first half for WSU.
Western Carolina didn’t take a shot until more than three minutes into the game. It turned the ball over on its first four possessions, missed two shots, then finally scored on Brandon Boggs’ basket with 16:07 to play. The Shockers extended their lead to 11-2 before Western Carolina recovered.
Western Carolina punched back and trailed 21-19 with 8:58 to play. Then the Shockers cranked up the defense. Western Carolina cooled off and took some bad shots.
Ron Baker started the run with a pass to Early for a layup. Early hit two of his six first-half free throws for a 25-19 lead. Hall hit two more to make it 27-19. WCU, after making 10 of 17 shots, finished the half on a 2-for-10 run. WSU made 7 of its final 10 shots of the half to lead 46-27.
The Shockers made all 15 of their free throws in the first half, with Hall and Early both perfect on six.