The luckiest Shocker fan might have been Wesley Totten.
The 2-year-old slept in his mother’s arms for the last few minutes of Wichita State’s 62-59 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
He missed the exhilaration of Toure Murry’s three-point shot that gave the Shockers a lead with two minutes to play. But he also missed the heartbreak of a VCU spurt and a final Shocker three-point miss.
Mom wasn’t that lucky.
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“It was a tough one,” said Laci Totten, of Oxford. She was leaning against a wall in a concourse inside the Rose Garden moments after the final buzzer, cradling Wesley. They had flown on a Shocker charter flight early in the morning, and Wesley had had a long day.
“I wish we would have pulled it out,” his mother said.
More than 500 fans wearing yellow and black had filled two sections of the arena, from the floor to the top of the seating.
Most sat still for a few minutes after the final Shocker shot of the season, a three-point try by Garrett Stutz that bounced away as time expired.
“I just need to absorb this,” said Pam Ammar, a WSU alum and former cheerleader. “I think everybody’s just a little shellshocked.”
It was a long way to come for a loss. Was it worth it?
“Yes,” she said quickly. “They’ve got a great group of kids, good coaches. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.”
Nearby, Murry’s father, Kennith, tried to walk off his sadness. He had flown to Portland from Houston with his wife, Carolyn, to see his son, a senior, play in the NCAA Tournament.
At halftime, WSU trailed by nine points, but he had liked the way Toure looked on the court
“I just love watching Toure play,” Kennith Murry said amid a group of anxious Shocker fans as halftime bands blared from the court below. “His body language looked good. That is something I look at right away from him. He looks pretty confident out there.”
He knew the Shockers would rally.
“I’ve never seen them play that way. They’re going to have to calm down and regroup,” he said. “We’ve seen them like this before. I’m very confident.”
And it was his son who gave the Shockers the lead in the last two minutes.
When WSU called a time-out with 12 seconds left, trailing by three but in possession with one last chance to tie the game, Kennith Murry expected that WSU would look to his son again, or to Shocker guard Joe Ragland.
During that last time-out, he left his seat and paced near an entryway, dressed in an all-black Shocker warmup suit. He walked back to his seat, left it again, paced some more, stood still and rocked on his toes, and walked back to his seat.
As the final seconds ran off the clock, the ball did find its way into Toure’s hands, but two long-armed VCU players leapt out at him and he had to curl a pass to Stutz, who stepped back behind the line and missed.
So Kennith Murry left his seat, walked out into the concourse, rubbed his eyes and walked around for a while.
“That’s a big disappointment,” he said a few minutes later. “I really thought we were going to win that game. I knew they weren’t going to let him shoot that ball. Him or Joe Ragland.
“It’ll be a little rough for him, but he’ll bounce back.”
Murray joined Carolyn and some other Shocker fans who were leaving.
He smiled and said one last thing as the group walked away:
“He went out with a blaze.”