(Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
Wichita State had an excellent second half to pull away from Vanderbilt and move on to the First Round to face Arizona on Thursday. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

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.

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