ST. LOUIS — Wichita State got a huge boost off the bench from senior forward Chadrack Lufile in Friday’s 80-58 victory over Evansville in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Coffeyville Community College product scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and also added a block and a steal for good measure in 17 minutes. It was the first time Lufile has scored in double figures since scoring 10 points in a win over Indiana State on Jan. 18. Lufile averages 5.6 points and 4.9 rebounds.
“I’m just trying to make the most of the end of my career, I don’t want to ever look back and think I could’ve played a little harder or done something a little better,” Lufile said. “It was like a home game ... the energy gave me chills. It was so good to see so many familiar faces in the crowd.”
Lufile also shook off a disastrous game at the free-throw line in the Shockers’ last game – he went 1 of 9 from the stripe in last Saturday’s senior-day win over Missouri State.
Lufile made his first three free throws against the Aces and finished 3 of 5.
“I needed to show the free-throw thing was a fluke, show the world that’s not me at all,” said Lufile, who is shooting 61.5 percent from the line. “That was in my head a little bit, so it felt good to knock those down.”
Lufile also showed a rarely-seen aspect of his game in the second half, knocking down a free-throw line jumper for his final points, drawing a reaction from the WSU bench.
“It’s all love when you see my guys getting behind me, they see how far I’ve come,” Lufile said, smiling. “I can hit that shot pretty consistently, I’ve just been doing it behind closed doors.”
Wessel stays steady — WSU sophomore guard Evan Wessel continued his late-season string of steady performances against Evansville. Wessel didn’t enter the game until 5:41 was left in the first half, but was thrown right into the fire.
Wessel came in to give MVC defensive player of the year Tekele Cotton a breather and took over guarding All-MVC guard D.J. Balentine.
“Just by who you go in for, I knew that I was going to be guarding (Balentine),” Wessel said. “But no matter who I was guarding, I know I need to come in and lock down on defense.”
Balentine hit a three-pointer against Wessel, a Heights product, but Wessel responded with a baseline jumper off a tipped ball and then forced a steal that led to a Fred VanVleet layup and a 39-27 lead for WSU. He played 15 minutes.
“I feel more confident, I’m getting into more of a groove on offense,” Wessel said.
Postgame pizza party — The Shockers demolished seven pizzas in about 20 minutes after beating Evansville and seemed relaxed as they did interviews and downed slice after slice.
Generally relaxed until Nevada guard Deonte Burton appeared on TV.
Burton’s thunderous, one-handed dunk in an overtime win over Boise State on Thursday night — the No. 1 play on ESPN’s “Sportscenter“ — was shown on a television on one side of the locker room and drew an audible reaction from the half-dozen players.
“Who in the world is that?” guard Nick Wiggins asked.
“Oh my goodness,” guard Zach Bush said.
The dunk was shown several times, drawing the same “oohs“ and “ahs“ from the Shockers each time.
Then they went back to eating pizza.
Late start works — Because of a mix-up, Indiana State showed up only 45 minutes before Friday’s game and saw Loyola warming up. The Sycamores, for reasons not totally clear, expected warm ups to start 30 minutes before.
“I was livid,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said.
Lansing could laugh about the situation after a 75-62 win. His second-seeded Sycamores broke a three-game skid with a complete performance. They made 52.9 percent of their shots and held the 10th-seeded Ramblers to 17-of-50 shooting. Senior guard Jake Odum did his part with 13 first-half points and 18 for the game.
“Momentum is coming our way,” Sycamores guard Jake Odum said. “I saw one go down and I got that feeling.”
All week, Lansing insisted that his team wasn’t as down as outsiders perceived after the rough finish. He liked the way his team practiced and they capped it with a spirited session on Thursday at Scottrade Center and in their closed practice at nearby Harris-Stowe State University. Lansing like the energy so much he ended the workout early, in part because a slick floor worried him.
Guard Lucas Eitel noticed a different enthusiasm. The Sycamores stumbled in the final weeks of the regular season, relaxing a bit after clinching the second seed early in February.
“Every time we hit a shot, the bench was jumping up and down,” he said. “That’s what we need.”
Indiana State is in the semifinals for the third time in the past four seasons.
Seedings – Unbeaten during the regular season. Conference champs. Enough to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, or do the Shockers have to do more in St. Louis?
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Shocker coach Gregg Marshall said. “I’m not concerned about it.”
Picture this — A Koch Industries ad that ran in The Wichita Eagle on Friday ventured into a gray area of NCAA rules.
The ad, with the large words “Bring on the Madness,” pictured current Shockers Nick Wiggins, Tekele Cotton and Lufile celebrating. The ad falls under the NCAA’s “congratulatory advertisement” bylaw (126.96.36.199). Since it doesn’t contain endorsement of a product, or product placement, the MVC told WSU associate athletic director Korey Torgerson that the ad is permissible.
Torgerson said the MVC asked WSU to seek prior approval in the future for similar ads.
Scoring soph – Balentine, the nation’s top scoring sophomore, has 752 points this season, including 21 games this year with at 20 points. He scored 30 or more six times this season, including in back-to-back games in the tournament.
Perline joins the list — Former WSU faculty-athletic representative Martin Perline received the Paul Morrison Award from the MVC on Friday morning. The award, part of the conference’s hall of fame, goes to an individual who make significant contributions to their school. It is named for long-time Drake historian Paul Morrison.
Perline held that position, as a liason between the athletic department and the academic side, since 1975. He retired in June.
Perline came to WSU in 1965 as an assistant professor and became a professor of economics in 1971. Perline’s tenure included dealing with the NCAA probation that hit the men’s basketball program in 1981, dropping football in 1986, the 1989 NCAA baseball title and last season’s Final Four.
Former WSU equipment manager Roland Banks received the award in 2006.
Southern Illinois baseball player Steve Finley, former Northern Iowa track coach Chris Bucknam, Bradley soccer All-American Gavin Glinton, former Indiana State basketball coach Bob King and Illinois State administrator Linda Herman joined Perline in the induction class.
The inductees were introduced before Friday’s first game.
Oh, brother — Indiana State coach Greg Lansing had to deal with unwanted issues this week while preparing for the tournament.
Redshirt freshman Brenton Scott was arrested Saturday and booked for misdemeanors of operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and false reporting, according to the Terre Haute Tribune-Star.
Scott tried to convince a Vigo County deputy he was his twin brother Bryson, who plays at Purdue. According to the newspaper, Brenton Scott supplied the deputy with a paper copy of a driver’s license identifying himself as Bryson Scott.
Teammates Alex Etherington, who is also redshirting, and Devonte Brown were also in the car. Neither was charged. Brown is expected to play this weekend.
“ ‘That’s Brenton, … I mean Brenton’s brother,’ ” Etherington said, according to the police report.
Lansing isn’t the only MVC coach reading the police blotter. Missouri State senior Emmanuel Addo is suspended after he was arrested Sunday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the Springfield News-Leader.