Shockers clip Redbirds in away game

Sports Editor

Wichita State’s men’s basketball team traveled to Peoria, Ill., Saturday to face the Illinois State Redbirds for the second time this season. The last time these two teams played, WSU won 70-61, but were out-rebounded 32-27 on Jan. 4.

This Saturday’s game was different, at least in the rebounding category. The Shockers out-rebounded Illinois State 40-26, led by senior Tekele Cotton’s 10 rebounds in the game.

I clearly, obviously disappointed in our rebounding effort,” Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said on the WJBC postgame show. “We have not rebounded in the last four or five games like we were earlier. I effort and toughness.”

The other thing Illinois State didn’t do was limiting their personal foul count. Ending the game with 24 team fouls, two players had four and Redbird sophomore Reggie Lynch had five. The fouls led to 32 free throws for the Shockers, converting 27 of them for 84.4 percent.

With 8:56 left in the first half, Fred VanVleet jumped up at the three-point line to catch a high pass. Illinois State’s Paris Lee slid his foot under VanVleet leaving him to hobble to the bench.

VanVleet returned and finished the game with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.

“VanVleet, 15 points with the ankle problem,” head coach Gregg Marshall said on the 103.7 KEYN postgame show with Mike Kennedy. “He comes down on his ankle. I’m sure most kids would not be able to finish the game.”

Going into the second half with a 29-23 lead on the Redbirds, the Shockers were able to extend their lead to 11 points.

Ron Baker, hampered with foul trouble, only played 12 minutes in the second half. That didn’t stop him from leading the team in scoring with 19 points.

Illinois State cut the lead to two with a dunk from Reggie Lynch. That’s when VanVleet drove down the court, dished it to freshman Rashard Kelly in the lane and Kelly dunked it over Reggie Lynch to take a four point lead, fouling Lynch out of the game.

Wichita State was never able to pull too far ahead of the Redbirds, but were able to avoid giving Illinois State any chance at taking the lead or tying the game.

Late free throws from the Shockers solidified a 68-62 win, moving them to 23-3 on the season and 13-1 in the MVC.

“[It was] just a tremendous win for our team and it puts us in pretty good position now heading into Southern Illinois,” Marshall said.

Wichita State’s next game will be against the Southern Illinois Salukis (10-17, 3-11 MVC) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Carbondale, Ill.