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The Sunflower

Shockers to meet Illinois State in MVC Championship

Wichita State and Illinois State, each 19-1 in the MVC, have advanced to the Missouri Valley Championship in search of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

A+young+Wichita+State+fan+celebrates+WSU%27s+82-56+win+over+Bradley.
A young Wichita State fan celebrates WSU's 82-56 win over Bradley.

A young Wichita State fan celebrates WSU's 82-56 win over Bradley.

Hannah Roberts

Hannah Roberts

A young Wichita State fan celebrates WSU's 82-56 win over Bradley.

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ST. LOUIS – Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall has made it to Sunday in St. Louis one time in his 10 years with the Shockers. Nine minutes in the semifinals against sixth-seeded Missouri State, his odds seemed to be crumbling.

“They came out and punched first,” Marshall said, “and they did a great job of that.”

The Shockers had missed all but one shot. They trailed 15-5 to the Bears who could seemingly do little to nothing wrong.

Sophomore Markis McDuffie and redshirt junior Conner Frankamp quickly pulled the Shockers back into contention with a series of back-to-back 3-pointers.

“I didn’t want to rush anything after that,” McDuffie said. “I’m trying to win, same way they all are.”

But just like the first three minutes of the first half, the last three were equally as contentious, as the Bears posted a 7-0 run in the first half’s closing minutes.

WSU forward Shaq Morris opened up the perimeter with 21 points and seven rebounds. He scored nine points from the free throw line, the Shockers shot 95 percent from the charity stripe.

“Our coaches did a great job of running and executing our plays to give me the ball and the weak spots in the zone,” Morris said. “My teammates just found me and kind of got me going and got my confidence up.”

With the pressure pulled off the 3-point line, Frankamp took advantage where he blasted six 3-pointers for 18 points — tying his career best as a Shocker.

WSU will meet with Illinois State for a third time this season — both teams with a tied MVC record of 19-1, each has lost to one another one time.

“For me, it’s not even about Illinois State or Wichita State. It’s just about winning,” Morris said. “We haven’t officially cut down nets, so that’s what it’s about to me.”

 

View the game photo gallery at http://thesunflower.com/15424/sports/shockers-fly-into-mvc-finals/

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