ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Wichita State defeated Missouri State 67-42 during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Shockers improved to 33-0 (18-0 MVC) on the year while the Bears fell to 20-12 (9-9 MVC). They will advance to the MVC Tournament Championship to face the winner of the Illinois State/Indiana State semifinal matchup.
The Shockers shot 25-50 (50%) from the field, 9-20 (45%) from three and shot 8-12 (67%) from the free-throw line. Missouri State shot 15-47 (32%) from the field, 5-21 (24%) from three and was 7-10 (70%) from the free-throw line. Wichita State won the rebounding battle 35-28 and forced 12 Missouri State turnovers.
Two Shockers scored in double figures while two others scored nine apiece. Cleanthony Early led all scorers with 20 points while grabbing five rebounds. Tekele Cotton scored 13 points, had four rebounds and dished out four assists. Ron Baker pitched in nine points and four rebounds as Fred VanVleet also scored nine points, but had three rebounds and five assists.
Gavin Thurman led the way for the Bears with nine points off the bench and had three rebounds.
Neither team scored during the first three minutes of the game until Jarmar Gulley of Missouri State made a three to give the Bears an early 3-0 lead at the 16:53 mark. Baker made a three of his own during the next possession to even the score at three apiece. Early converted a three-point play to give the Shockers a 6-3 lead at the first media timeout.
VanVleet made his first basket of the game with 14:33 left in the first half to extend WSU’s lead to 8-5. Early then dunked off an offensive rebound to maintain a three-point lead at 10-7 with 13:55 left in the first half.
Wichita State’s lead was pushed to six after a VanVleet three at 11:10. By this point, the Shockers held the Bears without a point for 3:24. Missouri State’s drought ended when Nathan Scheer hit a three to cut the lead to 13-10 at the 10:07 mark.
Dorrian Williams made a layup that propelled the Bears on a quick 5-0 run, cutting Wichita State’s lead to 13-12 with 8:49 left in the first half. Cotton nailed a three to stop the Bears’ quick spurt and gave the Shockers a 16-12 advantage at the third media timeout.
Right after a Bears turnover when action resumed, Early hit a three during the Shockers’ next possession that extended the Shocker lead to 19-12 while forcing Missouri State to call a 30-second timeout. Another three by Baker pushed the Shocker lead to 22-12 with at the 6:41 mark.
With 5:25 left in the first half, Early hit a corner-three with the shot clock winding down, pushing the Shocker advantage to 25-12. Cotton made a three and VanVleet hit a layup that made the score 30-12 as they were on a 17-0 run. During Wichita State’s run, the Bears had missed their last six shot attempts.
Thurman ended the Shockers’ 17-0 run when he made a floater in the paint and then a three to trim the lead to 30-17 at the 1:11 mark. Another Early three pushed the Shocker advantage to 33-17, but Austin Ruder made a jumper off the backboard at the buzzer to cut the Shocker lead to 33-19 at the half.
Wichita State shot 12-20 (60%) from the field including 8-10 (80%) from three and 1-2 (50%) from the free-throw line. Missouri State shot 7-22 (32%) from the field, 3-11 (27%) from three and 2-2 (100%) from the free-throw line. The Shockers led the rebounding battle 14-10 over the Bears.
Early led all scorers with 14 points while grabbing three rebounds. VanVleet had seven points, three rebounds and two assists as Baker and Cotton each scored six points. Gulley and Thurman both led the Bears with five points while Ruder had four points.
A 13-0 run by the Shockers over 3:30 pushed the lead to 50-23 with 13:51 left in the game. The Bears at this point had missed their last five field goals. Baker converted a three-point play, stole the ball and called a timeout at 12:09. Wichita State led the Bears 53-23 while then on a 16-0 run.
Chadrack Lufile made his first basket of the game with 11:56 left to push the Shocker advantage to 55-23. The Bears had only scored four points in the entire second half while shooting just 1-8 (12.5%) from the field.
Darius Carter and Lufile both made elbow jumpers that put the Shockers up 59-23 at 10:15 as they were now on a 24-0 run. Wichita State’s extended run ended when Ron Mvouika made a jumper to cut the Shocker lead to 61-25 with 8:21 left in the game.
The Bears used a 14-4 run to trim the Shocker lead to 65-39 with 1:29 left. Lufile made a layup and then Devon Thomas of Missouri State made a three that was the last basket of the game. This cut the Shocker lead to the 67-42 final score that pushed Wichita State’s record to 33-0 on the season and on the brink of their first ever MVC Tournament Championship.
Wichita State will play in the MVC Tournament Championship game Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Sunday’s MVC Tournament Championship can be seen on CBS.