Big Second Half Lifts Wichita State Over Vanderbilt
Wichita State fended off Vanderbilt by outscoring them 20-2 to end the game and win 70-50. The top duo of Fred VanVleet and Rod Baker (plus 9 rebounds) both finished with 14 points as the joint-top scorers for Wichita State. Vanderbilt also had joint-top scorers in Joe Toye and Riley LaChance with 10 points each.
The first half was a back and forth affair with neither team able to get an upper hand. Vanderbilt led 30-25 inside the final two minutes, but four points from the free throw line by Baker helped the first half end in a 30-30 tie.
Wichita State started the second half the way the ended the first: on a run. They scored the first 11 points of the final 20 minutes to open a 41-30 lead with Baker and VanVleet scoring all of those points. Vandy was able to battle back to make it a 50-48 deficit with approximately 8 minutes left, but head coach Kevin Stallings was called for a technical foul. While the foul only led to one point, Wichita State was able to seize the momentum and end the game on a 20-2 run. The Commodores only points came via the charity stripe with less than three minutes left to play.
Vanderbilt’s season has come to a close with a 19-14 record. Their performance will leave some to question the Selection Committee’s decision to include them in the field as well. Vandy shot the ball terribly going 16 of 53 (30.2%) and just 3 of 19 from behind the arc (15.8%). They connected on 15 of 26 free throws (57.7%). Behind Toye’s and LaChance’s 10 points apiece, Luke Kornet nearly had a double-double with 8 points and 9 rebounds.
The Shockers have now won a tournament game each year since 2013. Wichita State (25-8) will now move on to face Arizona on Thursday at 9:20 PM Eastern Time in the South Regional First Round. The Shockers went 22 of 59 from the field (37.3%) and 7 of 19 from beyond the three point line (36.8%) including 7 of 12 in the second half. They shot 19 of 25 (76%) from the free throw line as well. Anton Grady finished as the #3 scorer for Wichita State on the night with 11 points and also had 7 rebounds.
Florida Gulf Coast raced out to an early 11-0 in their First Four game against Fairleigh Dickinson and never looked back in a 96-65 win. The Eagles were led by Marc Eddy Norelia’s double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Norelia only missed one field goal.
Florida Gulf Coast started with that 11-0 run and parlayed that into an insurmountable 40-19 halftime lead. The Eagles dominated on the glass in the first half with a 27-17 margin and shot 16 of 27 (59.3%) from the field. They held FDU to 6 of 28 shooting (21.4%) and Norelia went 7 of 7 from the field for 14 points. FDU’s top scorers were Earl Potts Jr. and Darian Anderson with six points apiece.
The second half started well for FDU as they opened with six straight points, but they could not find any defense as they were unable to cut any further into the deficit. The Knights shot much better in the second half at 40.5% (17 of 42), but the lack of defense allowed Florida Gulf Coast to continue to pile on the points. Potts led FDU in the second half with 10 points while FGCU was led by Julian Debose (11 points) and Christian Terrell (1o points).
Fairleigh Dickinson finishes the season 18-15 after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament. Potts led the team with 16 points and 8 rebounds while Marques Townes had 13 points and Anderson finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds. The Knights shot 23 of 70 for the game (32.9%) including 8 of 23 from beyond the arc (34.8%). They struggled from the free throw line going 11 of 18.
Florida Gulf Coast is now 21-13 and will face the top seeded North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday at 7:20 PM Eastern Time in the East Regional. Norelia’s 20 points was best on the team, but Terrell (14), Debose (14), and Demetris Morant (10 points) also finished in double figures. Antravious Simmons nearly had a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds. The Eagles finished 34 of 57 from the floor (59.6%) and 8 of 23 from three point range (34.8%). They shot horrendously from the free throw line in the first half (6 of 17 for 35.3%), but went 14 of 17 in the second half (82.4%).