Shockers hold on despite fumbling 17-point second-half lead


Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State senior Samajae Haynes-Jones drives to the rim against Southern Mississippi. The Shockers played at INTRUST Bank Arena.

After missing the front end of a free throw, Wichita State senior Markis McDuffie gave Southern Mississippi a chance to force overtime after the Golden Eagles cut a once 17-point Shocker lead in the second half down to a one possession game.

McDuffie hit the second, but Shocker senior Samajae Haynes-Jones fouled Southern Mississippi guard Tyree Griffin on a step-back three-pointer that would have beat the buzzer. Griffin injured the elbow on his shooting arm in the contact, making him unable to take the free throw shots to tie the game.

WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall ran the numbers and elected for Southern Mississippi forward Leonard Harper-Baker to take the free throws. Harper-Baker missed the first of three free throws with 0.7 seconds left in the game. And with that, the game was well out of reach.

WSU held on to win 63-60.

“It doesn’t feel like a win the way we played,” WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall said.

The Shockers held off a comeback from Southern Mississippi in the final minutes of the game. Despite leading by 17 points in the second half, Mississippi State cut the lead down to just two points with three minutes remaining in the game.

Southern Mississippi guard Cortez Edwards slammed a two-handed dunk on two Shocker defenders to cut the deficit to three points. Shocker freshman Erik Stevenson hit his first three-pointer of the game, but Southern Mississippi responded with a three of their own on the next play.

Southern Mississippi failed to rebound, but their quick-trigger offense led them back into the game. WSU’s lead was cut to just a point with two minutes left in the game. Southern Mississippi took its second lead of the game with a two-point basket by Dominic Magee with one minute left in the game.

WSU regained the lead after Ricky Torres tossed an alley-oop to Shocker forward Jaime Echenique. Southern Mississippi had a chance to regain the lead with 40 seconds left in the game.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State forward Jaime Echenique goes up for an alley-oop during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Off a miss, Shocker freshman Morris Udeze was fouled. After hitting the first of two shots, he missed the second. Stevenson snagged the offensive board and put senior Markis McDuffie to the line for two with 13 seconds left. Southern Mississippi missed on what could have been the game-tying free throws.

WSU surrendered 15 team turnovers in the game.

“It felt like 50,” Marshall said. “Some (passes) were just gross.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Head Coach Gregg Marshall bends over after a call is made against Wichita State during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Shocker point guard Ricky Torres had six turnovers and six assists.

“There’s token pressure, and he (Torres) fires a pass that almost took Samajae’s face off.”

WSU’s seniors, Haynes-Jones and McDuffie, combined for 2-15 in the second half. Haynes-Jones scored one point in the second half with eight missed shots. He led all scorers with 10 points in the first half on 4-6 shooting and 2-2 from three.

Wichita State senior Samajae Haynes-Jones toyed with an undersized front court defense in the first half.

Haynes-Jones crossed from his right hand to his left, then back to his right to go around Southern Mississippi forward Leonard Harper-Baker and finish at the rim in the game’s early going. In what had been a tightly contested game, Haynes-Jones split through the defense on two-straight possessions, this time crossing 6-11 forward Tim Rowe. The result was a three-point lead, ignited by a steal from Shocker guard Erik Stevenson.

The Shockers’ defense forced turnovers on only four first-half possessions, but turned those turnovers into points three times.

Haynes-Jones played tight pressure on Southern Mississippi point guard Tyree Griffin, and Torres pickpocketed Griffin for a breakaway dunk capped by McDuffie. The Shockers took their first 10-point lead of the game with 1:06 remaining in the first half.

Haynes-Jones and the rest of the Shocker offense did not adjust well to a zone defense by Southern Mississippi in the second half. WSU regained the lead late in the game after Torres found 6-foot-11 forward Jaime Echenique for an alley-oop. Echenique was being guarded by a 6-foot-1 defender.

“Glad we survived that,” Marshall said. “They (Southern Mississippi) showed tremendous resolve in continuing to fight and making that a game.

“I was very disappointed in how we played down the stretch. That last 11 minutes was bad basketball.”