Wichita State Shockers

Second-half defense sparks WSU in rout

Wichita State played good defense in the first half, which is the routine. Then it played great defense early in the second half and topped that with about 10 minutes of soul-shattering, knee-buckling defense to end the game.

That's something new.

The Shockers defeated Drake 61-38 by wearing down the Bulldogs with depth and defense and grinding away their legs and resolve. Drake scored one point in the final eight minutes and missed 47 shots and 20 of its 22 three-point attempts.

"They're very athletic, they're long, they're deep," Drake coach Mark Phelps said. "They had an amazing end-of-game run at both ends of the court."

WSU (12-2, 1-1 Missouri Valley Conference) led 27-20 at halftime. Recently, that means a shootout is coming. The Shockers gave up 43 points in the second half of Tuesday's loss at Illinois State and had not held a team under 30 since Dec. 5.

"It's just energy," WSU guard David Kyles said. "We've been coming out relaxed. You can't win a basketball game on one half."

WSU won this one with 40 minutes. It pressed. It blocked nine shots. Defender after defender chased Drake guards Ryan Wedel and Josh Young. The Shockers ran as much as possible. Coach Gregg Marshall played nine players 17 or more minutes.

It took time to run down the Bulldogs (5-9, 0-2). When they did run out of juice, they crashed hard.

"They way we were defending them early on and in the second half, I think it took their legs away and had them worn out," WSU guard Clevin Hannah said.

Wedel, averaging 12.6 points and shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range, scored six points and missed all five of his threes. Young, averaging 12.5 points and shooting 37.5 percent from three-point range, scored nine and made one of four threes.

Kyles, Hannah, Graham Hatch, Toure Murry and Demetric Williams all took their shots at the key players in Drake's offense. Wedel and Young rarely went anywhere without a bigger, stronger Shocker dogging them. The WSU big men disrupted their curls with good movement when Drake screened.

Wedel, from Minneapolis, missed 10 of 12 shots in his return to his home state. Young missed eight of his 12 and is 12 of 39 in his past three games against WSU.

"We reached a point in the game where we just missed every shot and they made every shot," Phelps said.

The Shockers pulled away with two runs, both keyed by defense and bench play. A steal by Murry started it, leading to a free throw for a 36-31 lead. The Shocker reserves, playing with fresh legs, stretched the lead to 47-33. Reserves scored nine of those 11 points — Kyles with two layups, Williams with a three and Garrett Stutz with a layup.

"They had more energy and passion, defensively, than that first group," Hannah said. "They came in and sparked us up."

Drake steadied itself and trailed 47-37 before the Shocker defense took over. Drake missed 13 straight shots and didn't score again until Aaron Hawley made a free throw with eight seconds to play.

WSU solved Drake's matchup zone by fast-breaking when possible and getting the ball inside when possible. It took until the second half, but the Shockers figured it out. They scored 34 points in the second half and made 54.5 percent of their shots.

"It takes awhile to attack that defense," Marshall said. "You can settle for the first quick three if you want. But in order to try to get the best shot, it takes awhile."