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‘It’s 1 game down, 3 more to go’: Wichita State prepares for quick quarterfinal with Temple

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‘It’s 1 game down, 3 more to go’: Wichita State prepares for quick quarterfinal with Temple

Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis reaches out for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis reaches out for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis reaches out for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State guard Dexter Dennis reaches out for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

MEMPHIS, Ten. — Wichita State will play Temple at 8 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.

The Shockers topped East Carolina by 16 in a game that was never really close. Wichita State finished with four players scoring in double-figures. Markis McDuffie had 15 and Jaime Echenique had 14. Asbjørn Midtgaard started in place of Echenique, and added 10 points of his own.

Wichita State’s pair of freshmen, Dexter Dennis and Erik Stevenson had the team’s only 3-pointers. The Shockers shot far from well beyond the 3-point line. In the end, 3-point shooting didn’t matter too much. The Shockers shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, and 27 percent in the second half with its reserves playing extended minutes.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Samajae Haynes-Jones drives the paint during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Sinking the Pirates’ ship

Gregg Marshall’s “Play Angry” team mentality lead Wichita State to force 10 turnovers in the first half. The Shockers turned those turnovers into 11 points by halftime.

Dennis wasn’t phased playing in an NBA arena. The freshman scored 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting with three 3-pointers.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis celebrates a made shot during the first half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

“I was just playing freely,” Dennis said. “I was playing my game. Offensively, we were getting some good looks.”

Wichita State’s two seniors had quiet nights by their measure. McDuffie had a team-high 15 points, shy of his 17-point average. He scored 11 of his points from the free throw line. Haynes-Jones had eight points and four assists.

In the paint, Wichita State scored 32 points. Midtgaard had seven rebounds against shorter competition.

“I just have to keep going hard and rebound,” Midtgaard said. “I just have to do my role. If I do what the system wants me to do, then the team can be successful.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State bench stands up hoping for a shot to drop during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Moving forward

Everyone in the Wichita State locker room knows what position the team is in.

A win on Friday almost certainly locks up a spot in the NIT. Three more wins lock up the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. But a loss on Friday could send the Shockers home for the season. 

“You can’t think about the what-ifs,” Haynes-Jones said.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall cheers on his team during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

“It’s one game down,” Dennis said. “We still have three more to go.”

Freshman Jamarius Burton feels like the team that once started 1-6 in the conference has now figured out its routine. 

“Today was good to get our bearings,” Burton said. “Tomorrow we will be able to make the proper adjustments.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Temple players hangout before the Wichita State and East Carolina game on March 14, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Stopping the Owls

Everyone knows his name. Temple senior Shizz Alston, Jr. has made a name for himself scoring 21 points or better in the last seven games of the season.

Dennis knows he will likely guard the first-team all conference guard. That’s a heavy assignment for a freshman.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State center Asbjørn Midtgaard goes up for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

“I just have to do what I normally do,” Dennis said. “It’s all about disrupting the flow of his game.”

Alston Jr., however, isn’t the only Owl that the Shockers need to worry about. In the last meeting on Jan. 6, Nate Pierre-Louis dropped 21 points on Wichita State, and Quinton Rose, a second team all-conference selection, added 17 more for Temple.

“With good scorers like that you just have to make it tough on them,” Burton said. “We are going to watch film, coach is going to come up with a game plan, and it’s just up to us to try and limit their touches.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State junior Jaime Echenique goes up for a basket during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Midtgaard, who didn’t set foot on the court in the first meeting, is looking forward to using the size advantage in the paint for Friday’s game.

“They’re definitely talented,” Midtgaard said. “I don’t think they have great size like we do, but they have some big-men who known their role, and they make things difficult.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Midtgaard said. 

Wichita State lost the last meeting after having lead by 11 points with 3:36 left in the game. That vivid memory has haunted Shocker players for months, and now, they’re hopeful to avenge that loss and solidify its post-season chances.

“We have to handle business,” McDuffie said.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Rod Brown goes up for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

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About the Contributors
Marshall Sunner, Reporter

Marshall Sunner is a reporter for The Sunflower.

Sunner is a freshman at Wichita State.

Joseph Barringhaus, Sports Photo Editor

Joseph Barringhaus is the Sports Photo Editor for The Sunflower. Joseph is a senior at Wichita State majoring in marketing with a minor in communications....

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