TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Wichita State’s Toure Murry saw a Shocker sprinting down court, beating everybody else.
Naturally, he threw it to his teammate, who dunked. That it was center Garrett Stutz on the receiving end of the pass says everything about Tuesday’s 70-54 win over Indiana State at Hulman Center.
When it gets down to the final minutes on the road, WSU’s finishing kick is something to be feared, and the opponent never knows which Shocker is going to start the run.
“You’ve got to reward the big 7-footer running down the court like that,” Murry said. “I saw him wide open, and he made a great play.”
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Stutz’s dunk gave WSU a 59-50 lead with 4:40 to play. Fittingly, it started with J.T. Durley grabbing the rebound — WSU outrebounded the Sycamores by nine. He made a strong outlet pass to Murry, who delivered the ball to Stutz in stride — one of WSU’s 18 assists on 25 baskets.
“If you throw that any off line, too far or too short, it’s going to be hard for a guy like Garrett to maintain that rhythm and to finish with such authority,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “We had a lot of plays like that. We were clicking.”
Stutz’s dunk highlighted a dominant night for the Shocker post players. He scored 15 points, making 7 of 9 shots. Durley added 13 and seven rebounds.
“They were kind of unstoppable,” Indiana State center Myles Walker said. “They just kept hitting everything.”
The win puts WSU (19-4, 10-2 Missouri Valley Conference) a half-game ahead of Missouri State for first place. The Shockers are 6-0 on the road in MVC games, with all four wins by 10 or more points.
Sycamores coach Greg Lansing rattled off a long list of reasons for that road superiority.
“I think they should be a ranked team,” Lansing said. “I think about everyone of them has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and what that says is that Gregg Marshall is a hell of a coach.”
Indiana State (12-11, 7-5) is in a tailspin, one started by the Shockers. It lost its fourth straight game dating to a 93-83 three-overtime loss at WSU. The Shockers were tardy in delivering the knockout blow in that game. Tuesday, they finished off the Sycamores with a 15-4 run in the in final six minutes.
“Wichita, they were fighting harder, and we didn’t fight back,” Walker said.
WSU’s Gabe Blair provided the play that exemplified that sentiment to end a Sycamores run late in the game. They cut a 12-point lead to four, 52-48 with 6:34 to play.
With the Shockers wobbling, Blair tipped an offensive rebound to the corner and beat at least two Sycamores to the ball. When he got the ball back, a lane to the basket opened and Blair scored and drew a foul. He got undercut and landed on his back. Indiana State chose Stutz to shoot the free throw, and he made it for a 55-48 lead.
“We had two or three guys kind of standing and watching the shot,” Lansing said.
Blair took advantage of Indiana State’s hesitation. The hard landing scared Marshall. Blair, who is playing with a bad back, said he is fine.
“I just got undercut, but it wasn’t intentional,” he said. “I’m good. It didn’t bother me, it was just at that moment.”
WSU made 15 of 16 free throws and committed only nine turnovers, its third straight game with fewer than 10.
Carl Richard led Indiana State with 12 points. Jake Kelly added 11.