Defense leads Wichita State past Marquette
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Wichita State has multiple players who can score in many ways, its lineup filled with almost interchangeable parts. What sets the No. 6 Shockers apart is their ability to defend tenaciously.
They did just that in the second half against Marquette on Tuesday, winning 80-66 to reach the title game of the Maui Invitational.
“We’ve got to create a mindset, play angry. That’s been our motto around Wichita State,” said Shockers forward Rashard Kelly, who had two blocks on the same play in the first half. “Somebody’s just got to fall in love with doing the dirty work.”
Landry Shamet scored 19 points and Connor Frankamp added 13. The Shockers (4-0) needed a big rally just to get to the semifinals after a slow start against California in its opener. They had no such trouble against Marquette (2-2).
Wichita State took control in the second half, holding sharpshooters Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey in check long enough to build a 10-point lead.
The Shockers shot 54 percent and had a 44-33 advantage in the paint to earn a spot in Wednesday’s championship game against No. 6 Notre Dame or LSU.
Rowsey had 26 points and Howard 25 for the Golden Eagles, who were held to 10-of-33 shooting in the second half after a stellar first 20 minutes.
“Of those 10 open 3s we missed, we would normally make four of them because we have a good shooting team,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Tonight we didn’t. So that’s why you see the box score looking like it did.”
Marquette shot its way into the semifinals behind Rowsey and Howard, who combined for 42 points a 94-83 win over VCU.
The Shockers appeared headed to the loser’s bracket after falling behind by 18 points early in the second half against Cal. The Shockers turned to a full-court press and forced a string of turnovers to pull out a 92-82 win.
The reward for both teams: An early wake-up call (8:30 a.m. local) to play in the semifinals.
Neither team seemed, trading 3-pointers, floaters and drives to the basket while hitting a combined 11 of 16 shots.
Howard picked up where he left off in the first round, scoring 17 points in the first half. Rowsey had an outstanding four-point play, getting Samajae Haynes-Jones to bite on an up-fake, contorting his body after drawing contact, then making the shot — with his left hand.
Wichita State spread it around while hitting 16 of 30 shots, taking a 41-36 lead into the second half.
The offensive show continued in the second half, with Rowsey scoring seven quick points. Then the Shockers clamped down on the Golden Eagles, contesting those long 3-pointers by Rowsey and Howard, challenging everything at the rim. Wichita State held Marquette scoreless for nearly six minutes, building a 58-48 lead with a 7-0 run.
Marquette made a short run, but Frankamp hit a pair of 3-pointers and the Shockers held off the Golden Eagles the rest of the way.
“They’re a team that’s going to have an outstanding season and is capable of winning a national championship with their talent and their experience and their coaching,” Wojciechowski said.