Forty great minutes against Illinois State and 20 or so against Missouri State quickly faded from Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall’s memory.
When the Shockers return to practice on Friday, they will hear all about the second half of Thursday’s 80-62 win over Missouri State at Koch Arena. In that half, the Bears outscored the Shockers by nine points and outrebounded them by eight.
So long, easy day on the practice court.
Hello, video replays of all those missed boxouts and defensive assignments in preparation for Sunday’s game at Loyola. Marshall promised an in-depth critique and an evaluation of his substitution patterns.
“If we play like that, like the last 10 or 12 minutes, we’ll lose on Sunday,” Marshall said. “We didn’t play quality basketball for long enough.”
Not long enough for Marshall’s standards. Plenty long enough to handle the Bears
WSU (22-4, 12-1 MVC) kept pace with Illinois State atop the Missouri Valley Conference. They are tied with five games to play and headed toward what seems like an inevitable third meeting in the MVC Tournament in March.
MSU (15-11, 6-7) lost for the fourth time in five games and fell into a tie for fifth place.
The Bears last beat the Shockers in 2011, sweeping the series on its way to the MVC title. Since then, the Bears endured a fast fade and watched the Shockers take over the MVC. Bears coach Paul Lusk replaced Martin after that 2011 season and is 0-13 vs. Wichita State.
Shaq Morris led the Shockers with 13 points and Zach Brown added 12. The Shockers made 10 of 22 three-pointers and scored 27 points off 21 MSU turnovers.
Alize Johnson and Chris Kendrix both scored 11 for the Bears, who made 8 of 28 shots in the first half to fall behind by 27. They made 7 of 11 three-pointers and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the second half, moments that stuck in Marshall’s mind for the regular-season finale on Feb. 25 at JQH Arena.
“Now we get to go to their place,” he said. “And we’ve given them some confidence.”
What the Bears can do with that gift remains uncertain.
The Shockers, despite Marshall’s focus on the second-half failings, did play well in burying the Bears early.
If road trips to Bradley and Drake represented the grind of the season catching up to Wichita State, the Shockers are refreshed after two home games. The Shockers needed to work deep into the second half to beat Bradley by 15 points and Drake by eight in road games earlier this month. A 41-point rout of Illinois State on Saturday revived the Shockers and they got back to dominating an overmatched conference on Thursday.
“When you go against a team on the road, you automatically think you’re down seven,” Morris said. “You get a little more confident, a little more comfortable here.”
Brown and Markis McDuffie teamed up to limit MSU guard Dequon Miller and Johnson by switching their screens and shutting off their pick-and-pop game. Miller scored five points in the first half, all in the first eight minutes. Johnson, who entered the game with 14 double-doubles, didn’t score until the Bears trailed by 12 points.
With their leading scorers frazzled, the Bears generated little offense in the first half.
“We had a great game-plan,” Brown said. “We tried to contain them as much as possible and we were able to do just enough to get by.”
More than just enough, as it turned out.
The Shockers led 48-21 at halftime and scored the first seven points of the second half to extend its lead to 55-21.
WSU forced nine turnovers in the game’s first 12 minutes, resulting in 12 points and a 31-13 lead. The Bears briefly righted themselves with baskets on three of four possessions, before falling apart again. WSU finished the half on an 11-0 run to lead 48-21 at halftime.
The numbers indicated one team playing a far different game than the other. The Bears finished the half with eight baskets and 14 turnovers. They settled for guarded jump shots or drove into waiting defenders, who took the basketball and sped the other way. WSU scored 20 points, more than it had in 15 of its previous games, off those 14 first-half turnovers.
Daishon Smith and Darral Willis both scored eight points for the Shockers, who made 16 of 29 shots and 5 of 11 three-pointers.
Johnson led the Bears with eight points in the first half, all coming after WSU built its double-digit lead. The Bears missed 20 of their 28 shots..