Recap: No. 12 Wichita State holds off Saint Louis 70-65
ST. LOUIS (AP) Plenty of times, Wichita State looked vulnerable. The Shockers stayed unbeaten by doing enough things right at the finish.
Ron Baker capped a nice overall game with the go-ahead basket after getting left unguarded on the baseline and Fred VanVleet had two free throws and an assist in the closing seconds as No. 12 Wichita State edged Saint Louis 70-65 on Sunday.
“At the end of the day we made a few big plays that gave us that cushion,” VanVleet said. “Teams are going to be jacked up to play us.
“We just have to stay focused,” VanVleet said.
Baker had 22 points, six rebounds and four steals for Wichita State (8-0), which traded runs with Saint Louis (6-2). The Shockers rallied from a seven-point deficit with just under seven minutes to go with a 9-0 run and then outscored the Billikens 6-1 in the final minute.
“I’m just glad it was a 40-minute game because it was a game of runs,” Marshall said. “And their run was coming next.”
Cleanthony Early hit a layup off VanVleet’s pass for a 68-65 lead with 14 seconds to go, and VanVleet added a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds left. Baker drove the lane with 58 seconds left to put the Shockers ahead for good.
“We weren’t organized, they weren’t organized,” Marshall said. “It was just breakdown basketball, if you will.”
Early missed 8 of 12 shots but also hit a pair of key 3-pointers late and had 12 points.
Saint Louis missed two 3-point attempts and Jake Barnett missed a second free throw with a chance to tie it at 66 with 30.1 seconds to go. Mike McCall missed the second of two free throws with a chance to give the Billikens a 65-64 lead with 1:26 left.
“You really had to earn everything,” Billikens coach Jim Crews said. “It was kind of a game of swings, it seemed like to me, and they made the last swing.”
Dwayne Evans had 18 points and nine rebounds for Saint Louis, which also has lost to No. 10 Wisconsin. Tekele Cotton had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Wichita State.
“We can only dismiss so many opportunities to get statement wins early in the year,” Evans said. “I think we’re playing well but we’ve got to pull one of these out.”
St. Louis honored Rick Majerus during a halftime ceremony on the anniversary of his death. Former players Luke Meyer and Paul Eckerle gave tributes and athletic director Chris May gave Majerus’ A-10 championship ring from last season to Angie Kvidera, the coach’s longtime girlfriend.
“Certainly it brings back sad memories,” said Crews, who led Saint Louis to the NCAA tournament as the interim coach all last season after Majerus fell ill. “I really miss Rick, as a coach but more as a friend. He certainly set the foundation.”
A banner commemorating Majerus’ 517 career victories has hung over center court since soon after his death at 64 from heart problems.
“That was the greatest four years of my life,” Eckerle said. “Coach changed our lives forever.”
Both of Saint Louis’s big men fouled out. Rob Loe fouled out for the second straight game with 4:20 to go, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds, and backup John Manning had two points and a rebound before drawing his fifth with 1:57 left and the game tied at 63.
Early missed his first six shots, getting his first points on a thundering dunk off a turnover with 1:12 left in the half.
Saint Louis made its first three shots for an 8-0 lead, two of them 3-pointers by Mike McCall. Wichita State dug an early hole, missing 10 of its first 12 shots and trailing by 10 points before beginning a 17-0 spurt that put the Shockers up 24-16 with 4:39 to go in the half.
Austin McBroom had five points in an 11-0 run by Saint Louis that quickened the pace, and Loe hit a follow shot with two seconds to go for a 29-28 lead.