Armstead leads Wichita State past Pitt 73-55

Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton didn’t just shut down Pitt’s

leading scorer, he had him in tears after the game.

The Shockers’ guard held Tray Woodall to two points while coming

up with five steals and a key 3-point basket in helping

ninth-seeded Wichita State to a 73-55 win over eighth-seeded Pitt

on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

At the news conference after the game, Woodall broke down and

had to be comforted by Dante Taylor, who wrapped an arm around his

teammate’s shoulder.

”It’s a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of

worst game I’ve ever played,” said Woodall, who came into the game

averaging 11.8 points. ”I’m sorry. I let my team down.”

Cotton, a 6-2 sophomore, hit his 3-pointer to start as 12-4 run

and added a fast-break dunk to put the Shockers ahead 45-35 with

10:31 remaining. Woodall finished just 1 of 12 from the field, and

0 of 5 from 3-point range.

The game was a physical one, with players receiving an

occasional elbow in the mouth or to the head.

Malcolm Armstead led Wichita State (27-8) with 22 points,

Cleanthony Early added 21 and Carl Hall had 11. Freshman Steven

Adams led Pitt (24-9) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Shockers will face the winner of the No. 1-ranked

Gonzaga-Southern game.

Wichita State forced 15 turnovers and held the Panthers to 35

percent shooting, including 1 of 17 from 3-point range.

”Our guys took the fight to them, by getting a body on them,

being quicker to the ball,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall

said. ”The steals we had on them were big, big baskets and gave us

a lead, and a comfortable lead as the game went on.”

Cotton deserved a lot of the credit. Armstead compared his

teammate to a free safety, full of heart and desire. Marshall

corrected him.

”I think he’s more of a strong safety,” Marshall said of

Cotton, who finished with six points, three rebounds, two assists

an no turnovers. ”He’s a terrific athlete, tough as nails.”

Wichita State led 26-21 at the half.

Early’s layup and two free throws by Armstead pushed Wichita

State’s lead to 30-21 early in the second half. Durand Johnson’s

3-pointer cut it to 30-26, and the Panthers were within 35-31

following a three-point play by James Robinson. Cotton answered

with a 3-pointer to bump the Shockers’ lead to 38-31.

Hall’s three-point play on a Cotton assist with under 12 minutes

left gave the Shockers a 10-point lead, 41-31. Pitt pulled within

six after four free throws but the Shockers went on a 6-0 run,

fueled by a pair of Cotton steals, a dunk by him and two more free

throws by Early for a 47-35 advantage with 10:13 left.

The Panthers wouldn’t get any closer than eight after that, as

the Shockers scored 21 points off turnovers and took advantage at

the free throw line, making 33 of 41 attempts.

”Our guys took the fight to them, by getting a body on them,

being quicker to the ball,” Marshall said. ”The steals we had on

them were big, big baskets and gave us a lead, and a comfortable

lead as the game went on.”

It was another early exit for the Panthers, who failed to make

the field last year, and were knocked out by Butler in their second

game in 2011.

The teams were supposed to be mirror images of each other, and

in many ways they were – going hard at rebounds, concentrating on

defense and having difficulty finding the basket.

With 12 minutes elapsed, Wichita State was shooting just 25

percent and the Panthers 29 percent.

The ugly first half saw the teams combine for as many turnovers

(15) as field goals.

The game was expected to be a defensive struggle, with Pitt

allowing just 55.4 points and the Shockers known for dominating the

glass with 38 rebounds a game.

Pitt’s Lamar Patterson was called for a flagrant foul late in

the first half after Ron Baker took an elbow to his mouth.

Baker made one of the two free throws then Armstead scored after

his own miss on the next possession to give the Shockers a

five-point lead at the half.