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Shockers can’t convert in final seconds, fall to Tulane

Wichita State head coach Isaac Brown (AP Photo/Justin Rex)
Wichita State head coach Isaac Brown (AP Photo/Justin Rex)(Justin Rex | AP)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:21 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Ricky Council’s basket in the final second was waved off when the Wichita State freshman was called for a charge, and Tulane held on to beat Wichita State 68-67 Wednesday Night at Koch Arena.

Wichita State (9-6, 0-3 American Conference) led by 16 in the first half and maintained a double digit lead nearly seven minutes into the second half. But Tulane controlled the game at both ends for the final 13 minutes, holding WSU to 11 points in that stretch while Jalen Cook and Jaylen Forbes led the Green Wave comeback.

After three timeouts and a jump ball that gave possession to WSU, the Shockers finally got a crack at a winning shot. Council received the ball at the top of the key and drove to the basket, where Tulane’s Nobal Days was waiting in a set position. Council barreled into him and though his shot went in, he was called for a charge with .4 seconds on the clock.

“I thought about the mid-range but I thought if I’d missed the midrange then I would’ve had no change at getting a foul call,” Council said. “So I decided to attack. I ended up hitting the shot, they just called a charge. It was a tough play but we’ll bounce back.”

Forbes led Tulane with 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Cook, the second-leading scorer in the American, scored 18. Three other players scored in double figures for Tulane, which improved to 4-1 in the AAC with wins over Memphis, Cincinnati and WSU. Tyson Etienne scored 20 points for the Shockers, and Council had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

“To lose this game, it’s deflating to use your word. But you don’t give up in the fourth round of the fight,” Etienne said. “Like I said, I’m going to the grave with this team, regardless. We’re 0-3, can’t change it. We’ve got to keep going.”

The Shockers played without their two most experienced players, Dexter Dennis and Morris Udeze, who sat due to COVID-19 protocols. It didn’t seem to matter early, as WSU used Etienne’s hot perimeter shooting to jump to a 20-7 lead. Etienne made his first three three-points against Tulane’s zone defense, against which the Shockers got plenty of open shots from long range.

Tulane switched to man-to-man defense in the second half, though, and stymied the Shockers. WSU missed 10 of 12 threes in the second half and made just 8 of 25 shots overall. Tulane, meanwhile, shot 58 percent in the second half and made 4 of 9 three pointers. The Green Wave also had a stronger inside presence, as Kevin Cross took advantage of Udeze’s absence to convert easy baskets during Tulane’s rally.

“I think those guys wore down,” WSU coach Isaac Brown said of the Shockers. “We had multiple guys that are not used to playing 30 minutes and they had to play 30 minutes tonight.”

The Shockers have started 0-3 in conference for the second time in four seasons; the last time it happened, in 2018-19, they rallied to finish 10-8. Tulane earned its first-ever win against WSU and continued its impressive run in conference play after going 3-6 in nonconference.

WSU returns to Koch Arena Sunday to play Cincinnati at noon in a game televised by ESPN. Cincinnati, which is 2-2 in the AAC, has scored at least 77 points in three straight games, a number WSU has reached three times all season.

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