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Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Recaps

6:37 AM, Mar 8, 2014   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Fresh off a perfect regular season, the second-ranked Wichita State Shockers started their quest for a third Missouri Valley Conference Tournament crown with an 80-58 rout of the Evansville Purple Aces in Friday's quarterfinals.

The Shockers (32-0) ran through the regular season a perfect 31-0, including an 18-0 ledger in league play, to become the first team since the 2003-04 Saint Joseph's squad to enter the postseason undefeated.

Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker each had 17 points for Wichita State, which reached the Final Four last year and is trying for its first MVC tourney title since 1987.

Tekele Cotton and Chadrack Lufile tallied 11 points apiece for the Shockers, who will face Missouri State in the semifinals on Saturday. Kadeem Coleby had six of Wichita State's 11 blocks.

"I love how this team goes about their business and their approach, how it's just -- how resolute they are in just next challenge, let's get the game plan," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "How do you guys want us to defend this screen, this cut, and they just do it. They're really, really focused and locked in with the next challenge, and that's how you win 32 in a row."

D.J. Balentine ended with 31 points for the Purple Aces (14-19), who failed to build off an opening round win over Drake on Thursday.

Evansville actually held a 20-19 lead with 8:18 left in the first half, but Early responded with a rare four-point play to spark a 21-7 Wichita State run. Darius Carter capped the surge with a free throw to make it a 40-27 contest.

Wichita State took a 41-31 margin into the locker room before putting the game away early in the second half.

Holding a 44-36 edge, the Shockers put together a 13-0 run. Fred VanVleet tallied seven points during the burst, including a four-point play that made it 57-36 with 14:24 remaining.

Wichita State led by as many as 25 down the stretch.

"Fantastic, fantastic to see what they're doing right now," Balentine said. "They're a team of history. They're 32-0 right now. They're, if not the best team out there -- if people say they don't deserve the Number 1 seed going into the NCAA Tournament, I think that's silly. They really deserve it. Very good team."

Game Notes

The Shockers defeated the Purple Aces twice during the regular season by a combined 30 points ... Wichita State is two wins shy of matching the NCAA record of 34 wins in a row by UNLV in 1990-91 ... Egidijus Mockevicius had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Purple Aces ... Wichita State shot 50.9 percent from the field and went 10-of-21 from beyond the arc.

Final Score: Missouri State 53, Illinois State 48

St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Austin Ruder went 6-of-12 from 3-point range in a 21-point effort that led Missouri State to a 53-48 win over Illinois State in a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinal from Scottrade Center.

Ruder's final long-distance make was the biggest, putting the Bears up by a 48-46 count with 2:04 remaining and igniting a game-closing 8-2 run that sent fourth-seeded Missouri State (20-11) into a matchup with second-ranked and still-unbeaten Wichita State in Saturday's semifinals.

Keith Pickens pulled down 14 rebounds and Jarmar Gulley had 10 boards along with eight points for the Bears, who held the Redbirds to a 31.4 percent shooting rate.

Zach Lofton was the lone offensive bright spot for Illinois State (16-15), tallying 25 points while canning five 3-pointers.

Bobby Hunter gave the Redbirds a 46-45 lead by burying a triple with 4:03 left, but Ruder answered just under two minutes later and a Pickens' tip-in with 38 seconds remaining sent Missouri State up by four.

Lofton's second-chance jumper with 11 seconds on the clock pulled Illinois State within 50-48, but he misfired from beyond the arc after MSU's Dorrian Williams sank two free throws that made it a two-possession game once again.

Final Score: Indiana State 75, Loyola-Chicago 62

St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Led by 18 points from Jake Odum, the second-seeded Indiana State Sycamores downed the 10th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, 75-62, in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at the Scottrade Center.

For the Sycamores (22-9), Justin Gant added 14 points and Devonte Brown scored 12. The Sycamores move on to the semifinal round where they will take on the winner of the Southern Illinois-Northern Iowa quarterfinal.

Jeff White scored 13 points to pace the Ramblers (10-22), while Milton Doyle dished out six assists.

Indiana State shot 45.8 percent from the field in the first half, but just 2- of-10 from beyond the arc. Loyola hit on a woeful 18.2 percent of its field goal tries in the half, missing all but one of its nine 3-point attempts. Despite their awful shooting performance, the Ramblers trailed by just four, 26-22, at halftime, mostly due to a 13-2 scoring edge at the free-throw line in the opening period.

After intermission, the Sycamores heated up from the field, connecting on 59.3 percent of their field goal tries. The Ramblers improved to 46.4 percent shooting, but were outscored from the charity stripe in the second half, 14-7. After the Sycamores scored the first six points of the half, the Ramblers never got closer than six points down, and trailed by double-digits for most of the final 20 minutes.

The Sycamores dominated in the paint, outscoring the Ramblers, 36-14. The Ramblers did make the most of their time at the line, shooting a near perfect 20-of-22 from the free-throw line.

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