Baker, Grady lead as Shockers roll past Loyola in final road game

Evan Pflugradt

Fred VanVleet has had a pretty generous history shooting the ball at Gentile Arena. Wednesday was anything but.

Leading up to Wednesday night, VanVleet had not missed a shot in his two games in the arena 100 miles from his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. He entered Wednesday perfect on all 11 attempts and 13-14 from the free throw line.

VanVleet connected for his first field goal of the game with under two minutes left in play, a three-pointer from the right wing. Wichita State defeated Loyola —the sixth-straight time since the Ramblers joined the Valley three seasons ago — 76-54.

VanVleet fell short of his 18 point average in Gentile Arena, but he found other ways to fill the stat sheet. His late three-pointer gave him seven points. He also tallied seven rebounds, seven assists and a steal.

“Fred was a little frustrated offensively,” WSU head coach Gregg Marshall said. “But he gave us great floor game and terrific defense.”

VanVleet, a six-foot guard, opened the game with a block on 6-foot-7-inch forward Montel James.

Seniors Ron Baker and Anton Grady stole the show in the final conference road game of the season. Baker led with 19 points; he scored 15 in the first half. He also had five rebounds.

Baker connected on three of four attempts from three-point range in the first half of play. He scored four points on one made basket in the second half.

“I guess I got wore out,” Baker said. “I was trying to play with the team and execute team basketball.”

Grady scored 17 points in the post. He was perfect on all seven attempts from the free-throw line. Grady also snagged five rebounds; he finished one point off his season-high after an early exit to cramping in his leg with seven minutes left to play.

Grady picked up the low-post scoring efforts left behind from a less-than-explosive Shaq Morris. Morris scored two points and tallied one rebound. He was limited to 11 minutes of action after picking up four early fouls.

“Shaq couldn’t finish with the same explosiveness tonight, but Anton could,” Marshall said.

Devon Turk hit three three-pointers in a row to cut the halftime lead to 10 points. Turk led the Ramblers with 18 points.

Wichita State forced the Ramblers to 14 turnovers. The Shockers tallied five blocks and snagged seven steals.

The Shockers return to action Saturday for one final home game for seniors Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Evan Wessel, Anton Grady and Tom “Bush” Wamukota.

“I don’t even want to think about it, it’s going to be a heart-wrencher,” Marshall said. “But we first have to win the game.”

Wichita State tips against Illinois State at 1 p.m Saturday at Charles Koch Arena.