Shockers put full-court clamp on Bears

The 1965 Wichita State Final Four team was in the Roundhouse for their 50-year reunion on Saturday.

What they witnessed was the first triple-double by a Shocker in 43 years by Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker becoming a thousand-point scorer and a 78-35 stomping of Missouri State.

With the Bears’ leading scorer, Marcus Marshall, leaving the team earlier this season and without its team leader in assists, guard Dorrian Williams — who stayed in Springfield due to a concussion — the team was shorthanded.

And it showed.

“We’re struggling,” Missouri State head coach Paul Lusk said. “Our roster’s depleted. We’ve dealt with some adversity. You’ll say, ‘They didn’t try.’ No, they tried. We were just outmanned and Wichita State’s very good.”

With MSU’s inexperienced backcourt and lack of depth, the Shockers took full advantage by forcing a timeout and three turnovers with its full-court press. That was in the first half alone.

“As much as I honestly feel for what Paul [Lusk] is going through with the way his roster is made up now, you want to win the game,” WSU head coach Gregg Marshall said. “We thought that was to our advantage with our depth compared to theirs to make the game more of a track meet and pressure them a little bit, and it worked.”

The Shockers also crashed the offensive glass better than they have in conference play with 17 offensive rebounds. The only time they had that many offensive rebounds in conference play this year was the last time they played MSU in Springfield, Mo.

Wichita State missed nine of their first 11 shots, but once Evan Wessel hit a 3-pointer to take the lead to 7-3 at the 15:55 mark in the first half, the scoring onslaught began.

A pair of free throws by senior Darius Carter, a Baker three and a Shaq Morris layup pushed it to 14-3. It only took two minutes and 55 seconds.

Then, with 10:27 left in the half, Baker hit a jumper to take the lead to 20-7 and to become the 43rd Shocker in school history to record 1,000 points.

Going into halftime, WSU lead 37-13, Baker was in the 1,000-point club and VanVleet was on his way to history — needing five more points, two more assists and two rebounds to record a triple-double.

“Fred’s got that look in his face when he passes you the ball like, ‘shoot it,’” Baker said, laughing. “You can see it in his eyes every time he passes it and puts that perfect backspin on it. It’s usually going up. It’s shocking that it’s only happened [10] times in the history of [the program].”

VanVleet had his two assists and two rebounds at the 15:43 mark in the second half. All he needed was five points.

“Dominic Okon (director of operations) keeps up with that stuff,” Marshall said. “And he told me with 16 minutes to go or so that Fred needed five points. He already had the rebounds and assists, and I guess he told Fred, too, because the next two times he touched it, he got five points.”

Fred got the five points in almost a minute after the media timeout. A layup and a 3-point shot sealed VanVleet’s triple-double and pushed the lead to 55-19.

“We talked about it, and without going away from playing the game the right way, these guys helped me get over the hump,” VanVleet said. “You don’t get a triple-double without having great teammates, and I’ll give all the credit to those guys.”