Home > Champ Week 2012 > Championship Week: Illinois State shocks Wichita State, Creighton blows past Evansville in Missouri Valley Semifinals

Championship Week: Illinois State shocks Wichita State, Creighton blows past Evansville in Missouri Valley Semifinals


Illinois State did some shocking of its own, sending No. 14 Wichita State home early. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

The Missouri Valley Conference tournament is the best mid-major tournament, period. The site is high-major quality (Scottrade Center in Saint Louis), the teams play unbelievable defense, and the television broadcast is spectacular. Every team in the league has won the championship since 1998, and there are usually upsets, bubble teams, and bid-stealers galore. This tournament has everything, and it proved it once again today.



(4)  Illinois State 65  (1)  Wichita State 64

ST. LOUIS — Illinois State had the right guy at the line. Wichita State turned cold, cold, cold at the wrong time.

Brown made two free throws with 6.4 seconds left and finished with 25 points as the Redbirds upset the Shockers (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) 65-64 in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on Saturday.

“We shocked the world!” Brown said in a fired-up locker room. “Shocked the Shockers!”

Tyler Brown led the Redbirds with 25 points.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Jackie Carmichael added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Redbirds (20-12), who rallied from 13 points down early in the second half. Illinois State, which lost at home to the Shockers by 13 points on Feb. 22, snapped a 24-game losing streak against ranked teams, dating to 1987. A victory in the championship game Sunday would give the school its first NCAA tournament berth since 1998.

“I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we were going to win this game,” Brown said. “All we have is us — our team, our fans.”

Joe Ragland had 17 points for Wichita State (27-5), which had won nine in a row and 17 of 18. Now the Shockers must wait to learn if they will receive an at-large bid and get into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. The case appears strong for the Valley to end its string of four straight years with only one team in the field.

Only the tournament champion is assured of a bid, but Wichita State entered the day an impressive No. 10 in the RPI. Coach Gregg Marshall’s biggest concern is a lower seed.

“I don’t think we’re going to do too much fixing. We’re 27-5. We’re going to play in the NCAA tournament,” Marshall said. “I’m not worried. Are you worried? You shouldn’t be. Sleep well tonight.”

Wichita State was scoreless after Toure’ Murry made a free throw for a 64-63 lead with 2:51 to go, including a pair of misses in the final seconds.

“The first time we played them they had a couple of shots in the air to tie it,” Marshall said. “They certainly have our respect, and you can see why.”

Ben Smith had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Murry had 15 points for Wichita State, which won the NIT last season. Leading scorer Garrett Stutz, who averages 13.8 points, was in foul trouble throughout and was held to six points and five rebounds.

Murry missed from the key with about 3 seconds to go. Stutz misfired from the wing at the buzzer.

“I thought it was a pretty good shot,” Murry said. “I didn’t put enough lift on it.”

“They got real good shots at the end,” Brown said. “Luckily, they missed them.”

Illinois State has been in the NIT three of the last four seasons, but had won just two of five games before this tournament.

Carmichael had a big finish after getting just two points and three rebounds in eight minutes of the first half. Smith had 11 points and nine rebounds after the break. Illinois State was 5 for 13 from 3-point range in the second half.

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

“It’s such a mountain and it’s such a competition,” coach Tim Jankovich said. “When you see your group go to a level that maybe they didn’t know they have and become different, it makes you a little emotional. It’s probably one of the most gratifying things.”

Neither team shot well: Illinois State finished at 33.9 percent, and Wichita State at 34.9 percent.

Brown, who totaled 21 points in the two regular season meetings against Wichita State, missed his career high by a point. He has made 36 of 39 at the free throw line in the last 10 games. Carmichael has a pair of double-doubles in the tournament.

Stutz drew a personal foul and a technical with 11:59 left, giving him four fouls. Illinois State’s John Wilkins was whistled for his second technical after jostling underneath the Wichita State basket.

Illinois State went 12:12 between baskets in the first half and shot just 29 percent, but stayed in range by going 12 for 14 at the line.

Murry had 10 points in the half, six in a 14-0 run that put Wichita State up by 10 with 6½ minutes to go. The Shockers led by as many as 13 before Nic Moore made a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to end Illinois State’s drought.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
 (2) Creighton 99  (3) Evansville 71

ST. LOUIS — Creighton was on upset alert after Illinois State knocked off top seed Wichita State in the opening semifinal of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Needlessly, as it turned out.

Gregory Echenique had a season-best 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in just 20 minutes, and the Bluejays (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) also clicked from outside in a 99-71 rout of Evansville on Saturday that put them in the title game.

Gregory Eschenique and the 'Jays eviscerated Evansville, 99-71. (AP/Tom Gannam)

“I’m very happy and I feel like we played hard,” Echenique said. “We actually made a statement.”

Doug McDermott added 14 points and nine rebounds and Antoine Young had 13 points for the second-seeded Bluejays (27-5), who were 8 for 10 from 3-point range in the first half while building a 19-point cushion and shot 60 percent overall. They entered the day leading the nation with 50.7 field goal percentage and were third in 3-point shooting at 42 percent.

The 6-foot-9 Echenique was 8 for 11 from the field and is a 77 percent career shooter (24 for 31) in five career games against Evansville, which lacks inside presence.

“They were hard to guard in all aspects,” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “We had a hard time getting out to their shooters and they beat us up on the boards as well.”

Creighton carries a six-game winning streak into the championship game against No. 4 seed Illinois State, which erased a 13-point second half deficit in a 65-64 upset over Wichita State. Creighton has won the tournament six of the last 13 seasons and is seeking its first trip to the NCAAs since 2007.

The Valley has had just one NCAA bid the last four seasons, but has a shot for three if Illinois State pulls another upset. Wichita State was the regular-season champion with a 10 RPI and Creighton also has strong credentials.

“I think everybody on our team would want Wichita in the finals,” Young said. “That would have been nice, but it is what it is. It’s just another opportunity to go out and prove ourselves.”

Creighton is rested heading into the final. McDermott played 23 minutes and Young 20. Coach Greg McDermott planned on getting the bench heavily involved.

“It worked out great, we got a win and we didn’t play guys 27 minutes,” McDermott said. “We felt like we had a little bit more depth and we could keep fresh guys on Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes.

“They don’t have another Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes coming off the bench that can do what those guys can do.”

Kenny Harris had 17 points and Ryan 13 for Evansville (16-15), which has lost 14 of its last 16 to Creighton. Ryan, who scored 43 points in a 93-92 overtime loss at Creighton on Feb. 21, was just 3 for 12 from the field.

“It wasn’t about me trying to go out and score as many as I could,” Ryan said. “I think the big thing was we couldn’t stop them. We really needed to block out a little better because they got second-chance points.”

Three Evansville players — Ryan, Holmes and Troy Taylor — played at least 30 minutes.

Creighton finished 2-1 against Evansville, outrebounding the Aces 43-17 on Saturday.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but overall I’m really proud of the guys,” Simmons said. “Creighton was just really, really good today.”

The Bluejays won both regular-season meetings against Illinois State, including a 28-point blowout at home Feb. 1.

“They’re very streaky,” Echenique said. “They can be a dangerous team and they obviously showed that today. I feel like we match up well and we’ll be ready.”

Echenique finished one point shy of his career high set with Rutgers. Creighton easily shrugged off technical fouls to Echinque and Will Artino for hanging on the rim after emphatic dunks.

Creighton dominated in all phases in the first half, shooting 60 percent with a 22-6 rebounding bulge. The points total was the school’s best since the tournament went to a neutral site in 1991.

“They just outexecuted us,” Harris said. “Those open 3s just killed us, and we got hurt on the glass.”

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Categories: Champ Week 2012
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