NCAA BK

Drake loses 81-58 to No. 19 Wichita State

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP)

Drake coach Mark Phelps knew winning at No. 19 Wichita State would be a tall task.

Not even four straight 3-pointers from 6-foot-8 junior Ben Simons could help the Bulldogs keep pace, as Wichita State pulled away for an 81-58 victory Saturday.

Wichita State (26-4, 16-2) celebrated its first Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship since 2006.

Simons finished with 21 points, all on 3-pointers.

''We needed some guys to step up earlier in the game,'' Phelps said. ''Ben carried us. We needed some more.''

That was the key ingredient when Drake (16-14, 9-9) upset the Shockers at home on Jan. 28 in a 93-86 triple-overtime thriller. It remains the only loss for Wichita State in its last 17 games.

But Simons received little support early, as he was the only Bulldog with more than four points at halftime. Sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice, who had 19 points and a double-double in the earlier win over Wichita State, scored 12 of his 18 points after the outcome had been decided.

''They were clogging it up pretty good,'' Phelps said. ''He missed a couple outside shots that would have helped him.''

That was the plan for Wichita State. After being burned by Rice's drives in the previous meeting, the Shockers forced the guard to attempt several long jumpers.

''I think we gapped him a little bit more and made him shoot the outside jumper,'' Wichita State's Toure' Murry said. ''We just didn't let him get to his strong points where he can make that strong move that he does.''

Drake missed its first eight shots of the game, as Wichita State took a 12-1 lead. The Shockers left no doubt that the pre-game festivities for the seniors would not be a distraction.

But that early cushion vanished once Simons hit four 3-pointers to close Drake within 15-13. The teams continued to trade runs, as Wichita State countered with its own 7-0 streak before the Bulldogs clawed back to get within 29-25 with 2:50 left.

Wichita State would go on the game's decisive run to end the first half, scoring the last seven points to take a 36-25 lead.

When Drake cut the deficit to 39-33, the Shockers' seniors responded by scoring all but two of the points in a 14-6 run.

Wichita State delivered the finishing blow with a 13-0 run midway through the second half. Smith started the run with a layup and 3-pointer, and it was punctuated by a slam dunk from Ehimen Orukpe with 5:32 left that made it 71-45.

''I knew that we were going to come out with great intensity,'' Murry said. ''I feel like we're a mature enough team to handle (it). We just had to come out there with the aggression and play with the mindset that we've got to win.''

Drake never threatened after that, struggling through a 35.6 percent shooting performance. The Shockers outrebounded Drake 44-32.

Outside of Simons, the rest of the Bulldogs were 14 of 42 from the field.

''Not many teams can lose a player the quality of Joe Ragland, relative to their roster, and do what we did tonight,'' Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said of the Shockers' second-leading scorer who didn't have a point.

Wichita State led by as many as 27 points in the second half to set the tone for the celebration after the game. The coaches and players cut down the nets to celebrate the conference championship.

''Great way to finish it out with five great kids, five unbelievable seniors,'' Marshall said. ''To go out with that type of positive experience with the fans coming down on the courts and cutting down the nets, it was great.''

Wichita State will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Missouri Valley tournament.

Tagged: Drake, Wichita State, Ben Simons

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