McDuffie leads second-half rally in UNI road game

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Freshman Markis McDuffie drives into the paint against his Emporia State opponent Nov. 21. McDuffie scored 15 points against the University of Northern Iowa on Wednesday and rallied a second-half victory of the Panthers.

Evan Pflugradt

With a 12-point lead over the Panthers of Northern Iowa, capped off by a 41-foot Ron Baker three-point basket to close the half, Shocker faithful tipped their cap to Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall on Wednesday for what would appear to be an easy-going road victory.

Although, Ben Jacobson’s veteran group had other plans.

Out of the half, the Panthers started running with their senior-laden backcourt of Matt Bohannon, Wes Washpun and Paul Jesperson. Northern Iowa ran a 10-2 run in the first four minutes of the second half.

“They build walls around you to create jump shots,” Marshall said after the game. “They had pretty good looks.”

With the Panthers cutting the lead down to four points off a Northern Iowa three-point basket, Marshall called down to his bench for freshman Markis McDuffie to settle the racey tempo of the Panthers.

McDuffie burst on the floor with speed and agility to cover UNI senior Paul Jesperson. Jesperson scored a mere three points in the second half. McDuffie locked down defensively, as a defender he allowed no made field goals through his 26 minutes of play. He recorded a player efficiency rating of 15.

The game closed in at a four-point Shocker lead when McDuffie took matters into his own hands.

McDuffie found Fred VanVleet cutting to the basket for an assist. The next drive VanVleet answered by giving it right back, finding McDuffie in the corner for a three-point basket. On the next drive Baker would try McDuffie for another three, and he hit.

Back-to-back threes from the freshman would push the Shockers up double-digits for the second time in the game.

The dynamic shooting presence kept the Panthers in pace with Wichita State, cutting back the deficit to single digits every time the Shockers attempted to pull ahead.

With 3:58 remaining, and the lead at single digits, McDuffie pulled the ball away from Jesperson for a driving finish at the other end, giving the Shockers some breathing room once again. With a three-point answer, the Panthers showcased their fight-to-the-finish mentality that has brought them striking wins over ranked opponents earlier this season.

The Panthers may not have been ready to call this one quits, but McDuffie was.

McDuffie would strip Washpun for yet another steal, and with 1:56 remaining, the freshman raised for an emphatic dunk to close this one out. Wichita State ended the game on a 16-3 run over the Panthers in the final four minutes.

 

The Shockers capped the night by handing Northern Iowa their fifth conference loss of the season, and their largest home loss, by 19 points. Wichita State advanced to a two-game lead on the Missouri Valley with a win Wednesday night 74-55.

Wichita State continued to run the opponent out of the court with high-wire defense and pressuring stops that shifted the pace of the game.

“We only gave up 55 points,” Marshall said. “That is usually good enough for a win, even on the road.”

The Panthers were held to shooting just 33 percent from the floor. The Shockers shot 57 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range.  

Four Shockers tallied double-digit points highlighted by Baker, who led the charge with 21 points and seven rebounds. McDuffie recorded 15 points, two steals and three rebounds. VanVleet had 12 points and Shaq Morris recorded 10 points.

Wichita State returns home to contend with the Bradley Braves for their eighth conference match-up. The Braves are 1-6 in Missouri Valley competition this season.

The Shockers will square off at 2 p.m Saturday in Charles Koch Arena.