Wichita State Shockers

WSU leads for 31 minutes, but can’t close out in tournament loss to Davidson

Marshall full presser: “We just got to make a couple more shots”

Watch Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s full press conference following the Shockers’ 57-53 loss to Davidson in the first round of the 2018 Charleston Classic.
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Watch Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s full press conference following the Shockers’ 57-53 loss to Davidson in the first round of the 2018 Charleston Classic.

It was a throwback performance to Shocker teams of old.

Wichita State dominated the glass and its defense was stifling the opponent. Only this time, it did not end in a Shocker victory.

An arctic cold shooting performance in the second half doomed the Shockers in their 57-53 loss to Davidson in the first round of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena on Thursday. WSU let all of those positives go for naught because of 20.6-percent shooting performance in the second half.

Despite holding the lead for 31 of the game’s 40 minutes, WSU heads to the consolation bracket in Charleston and will play Appalachian State at 3:30 p.m. Friday on ESPNU.

Davidson didn’t play well, but it had the best player in the game in Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who scored 33 points and made countless plays down the stretch to help the lead the Wildcats (3-0) to the win. Gudmundsson made the biggest play of the game when he hit a deep three-pointer to break a 50-all tie with 53 seconds left.

WSU’s ensuing possession ended in a loose ball scramble that Jaime Echenique picked up and missed a short jumper. Gudmundsson made all four free throws in the final 15 seconds to ice the victory.

The Shockers finished shooting 30.8 percent from the floor in a performance reminiscent of their season-opening loss to Louisiana Tech. That spoiled a game where WSU outrebounded Davidson by nine and grabbed 29 of 33 defensive rebounds, and held Davidson’s offense to 0.83 points per possession.

WSU took a 50-47 lead on a pair of Erik Stevenson free throws with 3:13 remaining, but Davidson tied the score on a three-point play by Gudmundsson. The Shockers came up empty on their next three possessions as Davidson took the lead.

WSU crushed Davidson on the glass coming out of halftime and its defense was excellent yet all of that was undone by an offense that missed 21 of its first 23 shots in the second half and came up empty on 16 of 18 trips down the floor. When the Shockers should have been extending their lead behind their rebounding and defense, instead they allowed Davidson to rally to take the lead, 38-37, with 10:23 remaining in the second half. Finally, the ice-cold stretch was broken by McDuffie.

The senior swished a three (the first Shocker points in seven-plus minutes), then Stevenson jumpstarted a fast break with a steal and dish to McDuffie, who finished underneath to restore WSU’s lead, 42-38, with 7:40 left.

It wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing game, but it was intense. Every missed shot (and there were a lot of them in a second half) led to a mini-war for the rebound. Every possession was a grind.

The first half proved to be a game of runs, as the Shockers struck first with a 7-0 spurt to establish a 12-5 lead that lasted the rest of the half. The two seniors were key, as Haynes-Jones broke down his defender and kicked to Morris Udeze for the score, then both seniors drilled threes to cap the run.

When Davidson reeled off its own 7-0 run for the tie, WSU answered back with an 8-0 run for a 20-12 lead. McDuffie canned a mid-range jumper, then swished a three to force a Davidson timeout with 9:29 left in the first half. The lead grew to 10 in the first half, as WSU played a throwback game with gritty defense and dominant rebounding.

The Shockers outrebounded Davidson 20-15 in the first half, including a superb 88-percent defensive rebounding rate. WSU’s defense was spearheaded by Dennis, who was superb in locking up Davidson’s NBA prospect Kellan Grady and playing a role in his 1-for-7 shooting performance in the first half.

But Davidson was rescued by Gudmundsson, who scored 15 points in the first half, including a last-second heave from 30 feet before halftime to leave WSU feeling a little uneasy that all of its excellent work had only amounted to a five-point, 32-27, halftime lead.