KANSAS CITY, Mo. A night earlier, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall lusted after a gritty defensive victory. He wanted to see his team of scorers get dirty and shut somebody down.
On Tuesday, Marshall got what he wanted. No. 12 Wichita State held BYU to six second-half baskets in a 75-62 victory in the championship game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in the Sprint Center. A year ago, WSU won the Cancun Challenge with a dominating defensive effort. The Shockers slipped past BYU with an effort last seasons Final Four team could embrace.
To hold a team like that to 26 points (in the second half) is a minor miracle, Marshall said. Its defense. These guys are gritty enough.
WSU (7-0) limited the Cougars (5-2) to 31-percent shooting for the game and 6-of-30 in the second half. BYU made 5 of 10 three-pointers in the first half and missed all 10 in the second.
We were just trying to be aggressive, regardless of foul calls, WSU forward Cleanthony Early said. We just started to lock up and do our best on the defensive end.
WSU threw almost every defender available at BYU guards Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino. Haws, who averaged 26 points in his first six games, shot 3 for 15 from the field and needed 11 free throws to reach 17 points. WSUs Tekele Cotton did most of the work and got help from Evan Wessel and Nick Wiggins, who stripped Haws on one crucial possession late in the game. Carlino burned the Shockers in the first half to score 18 points. In the second, he scored three and missed all eight of his field goals.
Their physicality was what made them good defensively, Carlino said. We were fighting to get open on the perimeter. They had a lot to do with us not making field goals.
WSU needed that stopping power because its offense struggled. The Shockers shot 35.3 percent from the floor and made 6 of 28 three-pointers. Baker led WSU with 23 points, but he didnt get his career high in his normal attractive way. He missed 9 of 11 threes and went 11 for 11 from the foul line. Cleanthony Early and Fred VanVleet both added 12 points.
Baker made six straight free throws in the final minute, two after technicals on BYU, to put the game away. Before that, VanVleet came through with a series of crucial baskets and forward Darius Carter made one of the games biggest baskets late in the shot clock for a 68-62 lead.
The Shockers trailed 53-52 when they hit the necessary hot streak. Baker scored for the lead. VanVleet made a corner three for a 57-53 edge. After two BYU free throws by Tyler Haws, VanVleet drove through the zone defense for a basket and a 59-55 lead. Carlino made two free throws with 4:02 to play to cut the lead to 59-57. Then VanVleet made a long three for a 62-57 lead.
Nick Wiggins restored a five-point edge with two free throws with 3:02 to play, giving WSU a 64-59 lead. VanVleet made a 16-foot jumper to put the Shockers up 66-60. BYU rushed downcourt, but the defense tied up Tyler Haws, giving the jump ball to WSU on the possession arrow with 2:03 to play.
Up 66-61, Carter drove from the three-point line, with the shot clock running down, and snaked in a bank shot around a defender for a 68-61 lead. Carlino made one of two free throws with 1:24 to play to cut the lead to 68-62.
VanVleet missed a three, but BYUs Nate Austin was called for a flagrant foul and ejected after he elbowed Baker in a scrum for a rebound. Baker made two free throws for a 70-62 lead with 45.3 seconds to play. After Baker poked the ball away from Carlino, BYU coach Dave Rose screamed and stomped his foot, drawing a technical foul. Baker made two free throws with 31.2 seconds to play for a 72-62 lead.
WSU missed six of its first seven threes and 14 of its first 17 shots to fall behind 21-11. Wiggins corner three restored WSUs confidence and the Shockers began moving the ball more quickly and getting good shots against the zone defense. Tekele Cotton followed with a three to make it 21-14. Bakers three-point play pulled the Shockers wthin 21-19. His three from the top of the key gave WSU a 24-23 lead.
Making shots helped WSU pass more crisply and take advantage of holes in the zone for good shots. VanVleet began to penetrate and find shooters. Early gave Wiggins a touch pass for a layup and a 30-26 lead. VanVleet drove and scored to build the lead to 32-26.
Carlinos three cut the lead to 32-29 and started a run that gave BYU a 36-34 halftime lead. Carlino scored 18 points in the first half, making 4 of 5 threes. VanVleet started the game guarding him and WSU switched Baker after a few minutes. Cotton and Wessel took turns guarding Haws, who entered the game averaging 26 points. Haws went 0 for 4 from the field and scored four points in the first half.