Defense lifts Wichita State over Texas Southern
Erik Stevenson scored 18 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, and Wichita State overcame a cold first half of shooting to defeat Texas Southern, 69-63, Saturday afternoon at Charles Koch Arena.
WSU (2-0) shot 24.2 percent from the field, missing 21-straight field goal attempts over one 13-minute stretch early in the first half, yet survived with defense, rebounding and – at times – pure grit.
According to sports-reference.com's play index, WSU's shooting percentage was the lowest for a winning team in a Division I game in nearly five years. On Nov. 14, 2014, Temple toppled American 40-37. The Owls shot 22.9 percent (11-of-48) while holding their opponent to just under 31 percent.
It's also an unofficial school record. In the more than 40 seasons of box scores available in WSU's archive (1975-Pr.), before Saturday no Shocker team had managed to win a game while shooting less than 30 percent from the field.
Despite playing 40 minutes with two true freshmen point guards (Grant Sherfield and Noah Fernandes), the Shockers held a 20-8 advantage in turnovers. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and outscored the visitors 34-17 at the foul line.
The Shockers made 34-of-42 at the charity stripe, including 22-of-27 in the second half.
Stevenson was 6-of-18 from the field but knocked down all nine of his free throw attempts to post the second 20-point game of his career.
Dexter Dennis matched his own personal-best with 19 points to go with seven rebounds and a pair of blocks, while playing all but 88 seconds. His three-pointer with 4:56 to go broke a 53-all tie and gave the Shockers the lead for good.
WSU hit 13-of-14 free throws the rest of the way to keep TSU at arm's length. Sherfield supplied eight of them to finish with 13 points.
Trey Wade scored six points and snagged a game-high 10 rebounds.
The trio of Sherfield (11-of-14), Stevenson (9-for-9) and Dennis (7-for-8) combined to make 26 freebies with 87 percent accuracy.
Texas Southern (0-2) shot 38.2 percent from the field and was 17-of-27 at the foul line. Eden Ewing paced the Tigers with 18 points and six rebounds. John Jones and Tyrik Armstrong chipped in 11-each.
Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler's jumper with 18:42 to play in the first half was the only Shocker basket in a 1-for-24 start. Eight different players registered an attempt during that stretch, which lasted for nearly 13 minutes.
The Shockers trailed by as many as seven points, 16-9 at the 6:29-mark.
Stevenson ended the slide with a long jumper with 5:49 to go in the half, drawing a roar of approval from the announced crowd of 10,108. Asbjørn Midtgaard followed on the next possession with a hook shot, and the hosts pulled to within 24-23 by halftime.
Many of the Shockers' offensive wrongs in the first half were offset by defensive rights. They held TSU to 28.6 percent shooting and committed just three turnovers to the Tigers' 13.
Free throws sustained the Shockers during their dry spell. They went to the line 15 times in the first half and made 12 of them to stay within striking distance.
After their 1-for-24 start, the Shockers made 4-of-13 to finish the half at 13.5 percent (5-of-37). They were 1-for-10 from distance. Dennis supplied the only make and had a team-high seven points heading into intermission.
The Shockers luck began to turn early in the second half. Wade fed a cutting Dexter Dennis for a dunk.
Stevenson supplied much of the offense over the first 10 minutes of the second half. His three-point play gave WSU its first lead since early on, 34-33 with 16:37 left to go. His three-pointer tied the game at 41 near the midway point.
Dennis' three with 4:56 to go was the Shockers' last field goal of the day.
Two of the team's three returning starters from last year were in street clothes: center Jaime Echenique and guard Jamarius Burton (ankle).
Fernandes, a freshman point guard from Mattapoisett, Mass., made his Shocker debut at the 14:23-mark of the first half. He had missed the previous nine weeks with a foot injury.
Sophomore Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler made his first career start at center.
WSU is 2-0 for the eighth time in Gregg Marshall's 13 seasons and for the 45th time in school history.
The Shockers now lead the all-time series with Texas Southern, 4-0 (3-0 in the Marshall Era).
WSU has won four-straight at home.
WSU has won six-straight regular season games going back to Feb. 28, 2019.
Marshall coached his 700th career game.
Marshall improved to 504-196 and is now tied for No. 97 on the all-time Division I victories list with former Toledo and Bowling Green coach Harold Anderson.
UP NEXT: UT MARTIN (Nov. 16, 2 p.m., YurKS)
WSU continues a five-game homestand to begin the 2019-20 season when it plays host to UT Martin on Saturday afternoon. The 2 p.m. CT tip will air statewide on YurView Kansas (Cox HD 2022) and streams in all 50 states on YurView.com/Kansas and ESPN3.
The first of two Cancun Challenge preliminary matchups. The Skyhawks are one of four teams competing in the Mayan Division, along with Boston University, Northern Colorado and Gardner-Webb.
WSU and UT Martin have never met on the hardwood.
The Skyhawks finished 12-19 last year and were seventh in the OVC race.