Key statistics: Wichita State outscored Loyola’s bench 35-13.
Loyola went with a senior-night starting lineup, which altered its usual rotation. That left junior Milton Doyle, who averages 11.4 points, as the main scorer off the bench.
The Shockers held Doyle to six points before he fouled out in 24 minutes. Julius Rajala, Ben Richardson and Tyson Smith, all of whom started the second half of MVC play, combined to scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
Center Anton Grady scored 17 points in 22 minutes and Rashard Kelly added eight points for WSU. Grady’s contribution was particularly important because starter Shaq Morris played 11 foul-plagued minutes.
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How the game turned: Ramblers guard Devon Turk was injured and didn’t play in the first meeting. His microwave act in the final minutes of the first half cut WSU’s lead from 18 to 10 at halftime.
But the Ramblers couldn’t get closer, even with two possessions down 10 early in the second half.
Grady blocked a shot by Jeff White to preserve a 41-31 lead. After a WSU turnover, White missed two foul shots with 17:20 to play. That opened the door for another Ron Baker burst — basket, steal, two free throws — to end the threat. WSU pushed its lead to 17 points on Grady’s three-point play with 14:52 remaining.
Records: WSU 22-7, 15-2 MVC; LU 14-15, 7-10
Stat that shouldn’t surprise you: Grady made 5 of 7 shots and his 15-foot jumper from around the top of the key is a increasingly important part of WSU’s offense. Grady is 28 of 42 (66.6 percent) from the field the past eight games. He has four assists in the past three games after going nine without one.
Grady, Morris and Rashard Kelly are each showing good passing skills in recent games, some of it helpful when teams zone the Shockers.
Stat that might surprise you: Grady made all seven of his foul shots, his most since making 7 of 9 at Tulsa in November. He entered the game shooting 56.5 percent from the line.
▪ In 10 seasons covering Wichita State, this is the best item I’ve discovered:
The Shockers travel with big, burly security people who shepherd them through road games. The man who often leads coach Gregg Marshall through crowds is named Doug McDermott.
Marshall said he thought the man was joking at first. McDermott, a Chicago detective when he’s not working security, wants people to know he was the first Doug McDermott.
▪ The Shockers outscored Loyola 23-13 at the foul line and they continue to reverse their deficit.
In the past five games, WSU is 71 of 92 from the line. Its opponents are 55 of 82. Before that stretch, the Shockers had been outscored at the line in 15 of 24 games.
“You keep good free-throw shooting teams like Loyola off the line and its a start toward winning the game,” Baker said. “A lot of our silly fouls are coming at the rim. Any time we get beat off the dribble, a good thing to do is just contest it the best you can and make them score on tough, contested shots. Making guys score really tough twos is a pretty good defensive mindset we have.”
▪ Fred VanVleet missed a shot for the first time in three trips to Gentile Arena — he as 11 for 11 before going 1 for 6. He had seven rebounds and seven assists on the day before his 22nd birthday.
▪ The Shockers will play one of four opponents in the MVC Tournament quarterfinal. No. 9 seed Bradley’s opponent won’t be determined until Saturday. They do know their potential semifinal opponent — Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa are locked into the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
No. 1 – Wichita State
No. 2 – Illinois State or Evansville
No. 3 – Illinois State or Evansville
No. 4 – Northern Iowa or Southern Illinois
No. 5 – UNI or Southern Illinois
No. 6 – Indiana State, Loyola or Missouri State
No. 7 -- Indiana State, Loyola or Missouri State
No. 8 -- Indiana State, Loyola or Missouri State
No. 9 – Bradley
No. 10 – Drake
▪ Loyola’s Earl Peterson is suffering from turf toe. A fall in the second half aggravated the injury. Peterson had to be helped off the court and couldn’t put any weight on his left foot.
“He’s not doing well,” Peterson said. “That’s a hit for us.”
Peterson, a senior, averages 9.0 points.
▪ The Ramblers need help to avoid Thursday’s play-in round after falling to 7-10 in the MVC. An 0-5 MVC start is a huge obstacle and Loyola showed grit just to get to this point. Those five losses included two by two points and a third by one point.
It finishes the regular season at Drake.
The Ramblers, since starting 0-5, own wins over UNI, Indiana State, SIU and Missouri State, plus a one-point loss to Evansville. The Shockers are the only team to beat them twice by double digits.
“We should have a lot of confidence,” Moser said. “I feel like we were playing our best basketball going into this game. I thought we had nine out of 10 really good halves in a row. This one game … is not going to break our confidence.”
Next up: vs. Illinois State (18-12, 12-5 MVC), 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) — It’s senior day for five Shockers. After the disaster of 2013, all ceremonies were moved to after the game. The Shockers will need all their focus to take on the Redbirds, who have won nine of 11 games after Wednesday’s 73-50 rout of SIU.
Illinois State can play loose. There’s not much at stake for them on Saturday.
Forward DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, limited by migraines in his previous game, played 29 minutes and scored 16 points. Keep an eye on guard Paris Lee, who scored 21 against SIU. Lee is playing his way into All-MVC conisderation with a strong second half. SIU’s fade makes Anthony Beane’s spot on the All-MVC team less sure and both those Redbirds could move up in the order.