Men’s basketball knocked out in ACC tournament quarterfinals

The men’s basketball entered the American Athletic Conference tournament in Fort Worth as the No. 6 seed. Wichita State secured a win against No. 11 Tulsa 81-63 on Day 1 before they were knocked out by No. 3 Tulane 82-76.

Round 1 vs. Tulsa:

Senior guard Craig Porter Jr. dished out a career-high 11 assists in Wichita State’s first round win against Tulsa. 

“We just focused on fundamentals in rebounding, playing with toughness, playing inside out,” Isaac Brown, now former head coach, said. 

Wichita State outrebounded the Golden Hurricanes 35-26.

The Shockers came out of the gate hot, scoring the first ten points of the game. Tulsa hung around for most of the first half but the Shockers went into the half with a 30-25 lead.

“I just trust these guys more than anything,” Porter said. “I mean, even Rojas, Kenny, really everybody on the team … I tell him ‘if I pass it to you, I think you should shoot this.’ I mean, they were just prepared and they were taking the good shots that we’ve been looking for and it was just knocking it out.”

Maintaining the lead the entire game, Wichita State was up as much as 26 points throughout this contest.

Five Wichita State players scored in double figures. Sophomores Kenny Pohto and Jaron Pierre Jr. and senior James Rojas all had 13 points, while junior Jaykwon Walton and senior Craig Porter Jr. scored 11 and 10.

“We started off the second half just focusing on defense and we just got it going,” Rojas said. “When the dunk happened, everybody else just sparked up an extra level.”

Continuing trends from both their regular season matchups, the Shockers outscored Tulsa in the paint 48-24. 

This is the second time in school history that men’s basketball has swept three games from the Golden Hurricanes.

Quarterfinals vs. Tulane:

Wichita State shot 42.9% from the 3-point line and 37% from the field in their quarterfinal loss to Tulane. 

Brown attributed the loss to a lack of defense in the first half of the game and not enough shots.

“(Tulane) played a great game tonight,” Brown said. “We didn’t make enough shots. We came up short.”

The Green Wave led by as much as 13 points in the first half, but the Shockers remedied some of the distance, coming to  46-40 at the break.

Scoring first after halftime, the Shockers worked to whittle Tulane’s lead down to just one. With less than four minutes left in the second half, Tulane was leading 65-61. 

Both Rojas and Walton fouled out in the final seconds of the game, with 13 and 14 points respectively. 

“(Porter and Rojas) are the foundation of the program,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t be in the position we were in this year, if it weren’t for these two guys.” 

Porter led the Shockers in scoring with 22 points. He had his second point-assist double double in a row with another 11 assists.

Despite the end of their season, Porter said he was proud of the team’s work.

“I feel like we had a lot of doubters coming into this year, more than we had supporters,” Porter said. “To finish the way we did … I couldn’t be anything more than proud.”