Balanced offense ignites, Shockers down Bulldogs

Evan Pflugradt

Drake guard Reed Timmer entered Tuesday night’s home game with Wichita State on a mission.

The sophomore entered the game having scored double-digit points in 23 of the 24 games of the season, his only fault came against Wichita State in Koch Arena at the end of December.  

On Tuesday, Timmer eclipsed the mark in under eight minutes of play.

With the shot-clock winding down to one second, Timmer faked a 27-foot-long three-pointer and drew contact with Ron Baker. He made all three free throws.

“In the first 10 minutes we executed offensively,” Timmer said.

Timmer looked destined to have a big night. He was gleaming with confidence. Minutes later he challenged senior Fred VanVleet with his shot-fake. It worked. Timmer went to the line again for three more free throws, sinking each one.

Within a point, Timmer and the Bulldogs had kept pace with the Shockers, their biggest challenge on the defensive end. After suffering a weekend loss only three days before, Ray Giacoletti’s group focused on attacking with zone pressure.

The three-point line, it’s been an enemy in disguise for Gregg Marshall’s team.

In the two games before Tuesday night’s road game with Drake the Shockers shot less than 30 percent from three-point range. Against the Redbirds the Shockers missed 14 of 15 from three in the final 20 minutes.

“I’m sure every team in the league is looking at film and they want to try to do the same thing,” senior Fred VanVleet said. “We’re expecting it.”

Gregg Marshall focused his group on ball movement to create high percentage shots.

On the next play the Shockers ran a pick and roll to Shaq Morris, he kissed it off the glass and the Shockers took a three-point lead. The next time around freshman Markis McDuffie split the defense and tossed in a layup. A three from Conner Frankamp rolled out the team to an eight-point advantage.

Diversifying their scoring attack the Shockers were able to space the floor.  The Shockers looked unphased on the to the Bulldog’s less than fearsome zone pressure.

“It was a better flow,” Marshall said. “No one liked the feeling coming out of Saturday. This one was better.”

Nine Shockers tallied points in the first half as the Shockers closed out the half on a 27-5 run over the Bulldogs. WSU entered the half leading 42-21.

The defense had taken Timmer entirely out of the game, after scoring 11 points in the first half he remained scoreless through the rest of the half. Timmer would finish with 20 points, he made 11 of his 12 free throw attempts.

 Elite defensive presence has served the long-term proven winner for Marshall’s team. Drake was held to 25 percent from the field, marking the second-straight game the Shockers have held an opponent under 30 percent. The Bulldogs entered the game the No. 12 team in the nation for three-point shooting percentage, averaging over 40 percent on the season.

 The low shooting numbers have been a problem looming for the Shockers throughout the conference season. Tuesday was a positive change. WSU shot 48 percent from the field on 59 shot attempts. They shot 43 percent from long distance.

Shaq Morris and Ron Baker scored 11 points each in a balanced scoring effort. Rashard Kelly snagged a career-high eight rebounds.

The Shockers return home for a three-game stretch, they next play Northern Iowa 11 a.m Saturday at Charles Koch Arena.