LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA---When Wichita State fell to Tulsa on November 17, this was the first Shockers' loss in November since 2011. Then, Gregg Marshall's squad was upset by USC in the Advocare Invitational's second quarterfinal yesterday. Two losses in less than ten days? Make that three in ten after this afternoon.
Looking to right the ship, the 20th ranked Wichita State Shockers were defeated again, this time at the hands of Avery Johnson's Alabama Crimson Tide by the score of 64-60.
Although Ron Baker and company jumped out to a 15-10 lead thanks to eight points from "fab freshman" Markis McDuffie, Shannon Hale, who had just checked back in after collecting two fouls in less than two minutes, weathered the early storm by producing twelve points to draw the Tide within three (26-25 WSU). Yet, Alabama didn't just rally in the first half, they took the lead with a 7-4 spurt before the clock reached triple zeros.
Despite Crimson Tide leading scorer Retin Obasohan opening the second twenty minutes with a layup to extend their lead to four, the Shockers stole momentum and knotted the game at 36 with back-to-back treys from Baker and Rashard Kelly. At this moment, and what has seemed to be a common theme at this year's tournament, the two teams went toe-to-toe and traded baskets for the majority of the half until Riley Norris nailed one of his two three-pointers to morale. 68-65 Alabama! The sea of black and yellow was as silent as an early Sunday morning church service. And even with it seeming impossible, the Wichita State faithful become even less of a factor when Hale bucketed two more of his game-high twenty to up the advantage to four.
With the Crimson Tide's Justin Coleman tacking on a free throw, the mid-major dynasty found themselves down five with under two minutes remaining. Correction: The Shockers were down only two, for Shockers' senior Evan Wessel quickly tickled the twine for his third trey of the day.
Succeeding a rare wide-open miss from Hale, Ron Baker drew a foul on the perimeter. The "star senior" went to the charity stripe for a "one-and-one" opportunity. Swish! 61-60 Bama! Baker stepped back to the line with an opportunity to tie the ball game. The basketball sailed through the air, bounced around on the rim, and fell harmlessly into the hands of Dazon Ingram.
After Shannon Hale also split a pair of free throws, Tom Wamukota, not Ron Baker or Markis McDuffie, attempted a long range jumper. Short! Riley Norris came up with the rock, walked to the other end of the floor with the power to seal the deal, and rolled the tide to victory.
Hale To Shannon
As mentioned, Shannon Hale had a non-ideal start to his Friday afternoon, for he picked up two quick fouls. However, even in limited minutes (28), Alabama's second leading scorer was the difference in today's contest by scorching the Shockers for twenty points on six for ten shooting. The Crimson Tide will take on the winner of tonight's matchup between Notre Dame and Iowa, Sunday night at 7:00 PM EST.
Not As Mighty As We Thought
With Fred Van Vleet injuried, the Wichita State Shockers have shown many holes in their offense, like the lacking of a true big man and having only two perimeter scorers in Baker and McDuffie. To elaborate, Gregg Marshall playing 6'8" Cleveland State transfer Anton Grady as a five (center) just hasn't cut it against power conference opponents as the aforementioned is averaging 5.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 29.4% shooting in the HP Field House. Additionally, outside the senior/freshman backcourt duo (Baker and McDuffie), Wichita State is shooting 27.1% from the floor while in "City Beautiful." The Shockers will take on the loser of Notre Dame and Iowa in the 7th place game on Sunday morning.
Friday's Advocare Invitational Action
2:30 PM EST
5-0 23. Xavier - 5-0 USC (ESPNU)
Xavier: 64-45 Win - Alabama
USC: 71-69 Win - 20. Wichita State
7:00 PM EST
3-1 17. Notre Dame - 3-1 Iowa (ESPN3)
Notre Dame: 70-68 Loss - Monmouth
Iowa: 82-77 Loss - Dayton
9:30 PM EST
3-1 Monmouth - 4-0 Dayton (ESPN2)
Monmouth: 70-68 Win - 17. Notre Dame
Dayton: 82-77 Win - Iowa
Coverage of Friday and Sunday's games from the HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, can and will be found on VAVEL US.