Balanced attack propels Shockers to 80-54 win over Loyola of Chicago
WICHITA, Kan. -- After a blowout win, it was single-digit numbers on the stat sheet that caught the eye of Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.
Ron Baker had eight points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists to help the No. 22 Shockers rout Loyola of Chicago 80-54 on Wednesday night.
"He did it all," Marshall said. "Here's a guy who represented our country (in the Pan Am Games) this summer, and he only takes six shots. Fred (VanVleet) is preseason player of the year and takes six shots.
"Those guys are unselfish, and we played unselfishly."
Wichita State (15-5, 9-0 Missouri Valley) had seven players score at least eight points, including Shaquille Morris with 12 and Rashard Kelly with 11. VanVleet had eight points and eight of the Shockers' 22 assists on 28 field goals.
Montel James and Earl Peterson each scored 11 for Loyola (9-12, 2-7).
"The reality is they make you play bad," Ramblers coach Porter Moser said, "and we played bad."
Moser also gave Baker credit, saying his driving reverse layup for the game's first points "set the tone already."
Wichita State scored the first eight points of the night. Zach Brown made a 3-pointer that gave the Shockers an 8-0 lead with 17:08 left in the first half, prompting Loyola to call a timeout.
Wichita State took control with a 16-4 run led by Evan Wessel, who entered the game averaging 3.8 points. Wessel hit two 3s and scored eight points in that stretch, pushing the Shockers' advantage to 24-8 with 8:30 to play in the first half.
Out of desperation, Moser went to a zone defense he rarely employs.
"We had no answers," the coach said, "and we've been a good defensive team."
After closing within 13 at halftime, Loyola maintained some momentum to start the second half. The Ramblers made five of their first six shots, including 3-pointers from Milton Doyle and Ben Richardson.
That only helped trim Wichita State's lead to 47-36 with 14:03 remaining.
The Shockers then methodically put the game away, holding the Ramblers to two points over the next 5 1/2 minutes. Conner Frankamp's 3-pointer made it 56-36 with 11:05 left, and Loyola called another timeout.
Wichita State's surge continued. VanVleet hit consecutive 3s and threw an alley-oop pass that Kelly slammed home.
VanVleet said he was looking for an exclamation point, and that play provided it while giving the Shockers a 66-40 cushion with 8 minutes to play.
"No doubt, that's the perfect situation for that," VanVleet said. "At home, you know the crowd's going to go crazy. We had got some stops, got some scores, and then that is the type of play that can be a backbreaker."
Loyola called another timeout as the crowd roared.
Marshall was so happy with the effort, he gave his players the day off from practice Thursday.
"We were cutting, moving, passing and slashing as well as we have all year," Marshall said. "Our offense was terrific."
Wichita State's lead grew to 70-40 on VanVleet's free throws with 6:01 remaining.
WE'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY
This was Wichita State's first game as a ranked team since Nov. 29, when the Shockers lost 84-61 to Iowa in the seventh-place game of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Wichita State is 13-1 since that defeat. Iowa is 12-1 since that game, going from unranked to No. 3 in the nation this week.
Despite having only one player among the conference's top 20 rebounders, Wichita State entered leading the Missouri Valley with a plus-5.2 rebounding margin. Loyola came in last in that category at minus-3.7. Wichita State outrebounded Loyola 40-30.
Loyola: This was the Ramblers' third trip to Wichita as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. They have averaged 48.6 points in those games. ... Loyola did not start its two leading scorers this season, Doyle and James. The Ramblers' bench was still outscored 39-24, making Wichita State only the second conference opponent to do that.
Wichita State: The Shockers are 9-0 in Missouri Valley play for the third straight season. ... Wichita State has won 42 straight home games, the second-longest active streak in the country. ... VanVleet has 473 career assists, moving him into the top 10 in Missouri Valley history.
Loyola hosts Indiana State on Saturday.
Wichita State travels to Evansville on Sunday.