DES MOINES, Iowa — The No. 5 Wichita State Shockers faced another packed house and a frenzied student section hoping to see an upset when they took on the Drake Bulldogs at the Knapp Center on Saturday.
And the Shockers sent another crowd home disappointed, handling Drake 78-61.
Forward Cleanthony Early led the way with 19 points while guard Ron Baker pitched in 14 for the Shockers. Forward Nick Wiggins came off the bench to score 11 for whichita State, while guard Aaron Hawley led Drake with 16 points.
WSU (21-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley Conference) started the second half with a 13-6 run that took most of the juice out of the crowd. An 11-0 run, started and ended by three-point plays by Wiggins, gave the Shockers a 65-44 lead with 8 minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs cut the margin to 10 on guard Jordan Daniels’ 3-pointer. The Shockers quickly beat down that rally, starting with a drive by Wiggins that ended with a foul and a free throw for a 57-44 lead. After a Drake turnover, Early swished a three from the win. Early rose high over the rim to dunk guard Evan Wessel’s missed three. Then Early found Wiggins under the basket for a reverse layup and foul. The free throw ended the 11-0 run and gave the Shockers a 65-44 lead.
The Shockers led Drake 37-29 at halftime, taking control of a fast-paced game late in the half. The Shockers forced three straight turnovers to build a 35-26 lead. Forward Darius Carter’s three-point play made it 33-26 and guard Fred VanVleet followed with two free throws. Drake made one basket in its final nine possessions of the half.
Neither team enjoyed success on defense in the first half. The Shockers overpowered Drake when it played man-to-man defense and shot over its zone. The Bulldogs dribbled through WSU’s press for layups and made 3-pointers to keep the larger-than-normal crowd buzzing.
Wichita State forward Tekele Cotton started a 10-5 run with a layup for a 17-15 lead. Early followed with his second three-point play of the first half to put the Shockers up 20-15. The Shockers pushed their edge to six points on Early’s 3 from the wing to lead 30-24.
NOTES: Wichita State matched the 1964-65 team with its 8-0 MVC start. The last MVC team to start 6-0 or better was the 2008 Drake team at 13-0. … The Shockers lead the series 97-47 and 35-34 in Des Moines … Drake fell to 0-9 when out-rebounded. … Drake coach Ray Giacoletti was briefly an assistant at WSU in the spring of 2000 on coach Mark Turgeon’s first staff. Eastern Washington hired him as head coach weeks after he took the job at WSU. … Drake is 11-0 when out-rebounding an opponent.
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