Wichita State isn’t a great shooting team — some games, not even good — and usually succeeds with superior defense and rebounding. Throw in above-average determination and depth and the Shockers are ranked No. 15 nationally for a reason.
When they shoot poorly — and when they don’t grab loose balls or humble shooters — they are in trouble. Indiana State made that clear in Tuesday’s 68-55 win over the Shockers at Koch Arena.
“We got whipped,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “Their gameplan was better than ours. Their players played better than ours. Their coaches coached better than ours.”
The loss reduced WSU’s (19-3, 8-2 Missouri Valley Conference) lead in the MVC to a half-game over No. 21 Creighton, which plays Missouri State on Wednesday. It also ended a home winning streak at 19. Indiana State (14-7, 7-3) can call itself a contender after moving within one game of WSU.
Those are not the numbers that concerned Marshall. In fact, while several stats explain the loss, the intangibles concerned him just as much. In a rare occurrence, he saw Sycamores making hustle plays instead of Shockers.
WSU, knocked off stride by Indiana State’s changing defenses, shot a season-low 27.1 percent from the field. While the Shockers rallied several times in the second half, they made one basket in the final 8:57, a meaningless layup with 21 seconds to play. The Sycamores out-rebounded WSU 35-34.
“They seemed to get every loose ball tonight, which bothered me,” Marshall said. “That doesn’t happen. I’ve got to figure out why they were quicker to the ball and tougher to retrieve the ball.”
Indiana State led the entire second half and played most of the game on its terms by using a 2-3 zone after made baskets. The zone kept the ball away from WSU forward Carl Hall, who took two shots, and forced the Shockers to launch from the outside. It also kept the pace slow, right where Indiana State wanted it.
“They did a good job making us an outside team,” WSU guard Demetric Williams said.
The Shockers made 9 of 28 threes (32.1 percent), close to their season percentage. They struggled even more inside the arc, making 7 of 31 shots. WSU couldn’t score in the lane. It grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, but managed only 14 second-chance points.
“It wasn’t nothing I wasn’t used to,” Hall said. “I’ve got to make those few offensive rebounds that I grab. Most of the time, I was kicking it back because I really didn’t have a good angle and I didn’t want to force it up.”
Indiana State rarely plays zone and practices it a few minutes every other day. With WSU’s inside game and suspect outside shooting, it worked.
“Just taking them out of rhythm,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “They took a lot of threes, and that was better for us.”
Indiana State can point to two key bursts that ended an eight-game losing streak at Koch Arena.
It led 33-28 late in the first half and then scored six points in the final 40 seconds to lead 39-28 at halftime. R.J. Mahurin’s four-point play, after a foul on Ehimen Orukpe, started the run. Fred VanVleet’s bad pass led to a layup for Khristian Smith and the Sycamores took all the momentum at halftime.
In the second half, WSU cut the lead to 50-48 with 7:34 to play on two free throws by Cleanthony Early. Indiana State responded with an 8-2 run, started by four points from guard Jake Odum. WSU scored seven points in the final six minutes, five on free throws.
“They made the right plays, and we couldn’t get over the hump,” Williams said.