VIDEO: Gregg Marshall postgame vs Missouri State
Missouri State committed turnover after turnover, mistakes made worse by the circumstances. Almost every bad pass and careless dribble led Wichita State to its own basket for a dunk or a layup.
In many cases, the Bears were better off throwing the ball into the seats to save themselves the sight of Shockers fast-breaking for easy baskets.
“They dominated us in every way possible,” Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said.
WSU routed the Bears 99-68 on Thursday at Koch Arena and closed in on its third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference title with a reminder of their recent dominance. WSU needs one win (or an Illinois State loss) to clinch a share of the title. Any combination of two locks up the No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament and an undisputed crown for the fourth time in five seasons.
WSU (20-7, 13-2 MVC) also clinched its seventh consecutive 20-win season, an unprecedented run for the program and the second-longest streak in MVC history.
The Shockers led 51-27 at halftime after forcing 11 first-half turnovers. They dunked seven times in the first half, a season-high, and more than in any game last season.
The Bears (11-16, 7-8) never recovered from a dunk-fueled 19-4 run that took only 4:15 to unfold.
“It’s rare that you get a free-flowing game like that in the Missouri Valley Conference,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “That game equates to like an all-star game in the NBA. Our offense was really good throughout.”
Three sophomores took full advantage of Missouri State’s inability to run an offense against tight defense or move the ball against a press. Zach Brown led WSU with a career-high 16 points, 13 in the first half. Rashard Kelly’s 12 points also set a career high. Shaq Morris didn’t commit a foul and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
“We just had fun,” Kelly said. “We turned up the energy on defense and we got the building rocking.”
The Shockers finished with 10 dunks.
“Amazing defense,” Brown said. “Ten dunks. That’s really special.”
The Shockers deflected 24 passes, a season-high, in the first half.
“We enjoyed the fruits of the labor on that,” Marshall said. “I thought Rashard Kelly and Zach Brown, especially, were really running hard in transition. Fred (VanVleet) and Ron are going to find you when you do that.”
Obediah Church made 7 of 8 shots led the Bears with 14 points.
The Bears finished with 18 turnovers, leading to 29 Shockers points. WSU made 39 of 66 shots to shoot a season-best 59 percent.
“We talked about how hard it is to run offense against them and you can’t have empty possessions,” Lusk said. “They physically man-handled us in about every way.”
It started right away. Morris dunked on a lob from VanVleet for the first basket. WSU took a 6-2 lead on a steal and layup by Baker. The Bears stuck close for a few minutes.
Morris started WSU’s decisive run with a follow shot for a 22-14 lead. He scored on a pass from Kelly to beat MSU’s zone defense. Kelly, again working inside against the zone, scored on the baseline for a 27-16 lead.
Then the dunking picked up again.
Brown dunked on a lob from Baker. Brown dunked on a lob from VanVleet. Markis McDuffie’s tip dunk made it 38-18. Kelly’s steal and dunk put WSU up 40-18. Two possessions later, another turnover led to another Kelly dunk.
Twelve Bears turnovers gave the Shockers numerous breaks and helped turn a 20-14 lead into a 36-16 lead in 3:22. WSU scored 20 points off turnovers and made 21 of 38 shots, 18 of 27 inside the arc.