Jackie Carmichael finished with 22 points against Wichita State. (Photo By B Corbin/WJBC)
By WJBC Staff
ST. LOUIS - Illinois State overcame a 16-point first-half deficit to take a one-point lead early in the second half, but Wichita State pulled away late to beat the Redbirds, 66-51, in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals Saturday evening at Scottrade Center.
Jackie Carmichael scored a game-high 22 points for the No. 6-seeded Redbirds (18-15), who beat No. 3-seeded Northern Iowa, Friday but could not continue their Valley Tournament run. Illinois State was held to a season-low 29.1 percent from the field, while the Shockers (26-7) shot 41.1 percent.
Carl Hall led WSU with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Shockers will play top-seeded Creighton Sunday at 1:05 p.m. for the Valley Tournament title.
Wichita State score 15-unanswered points to start the game, and led by as many as 16 in the first half. The Redbirds were held 0-for-8 from the field, with three turnovers during the opening six minutes. Illinois State first got on the board with a free throw by Carmichael at the 13:43 mark, but the Redbirds proceeded to miss their first 13 field goal attempts.
ISU did not make a basket until Bryant Allen forced a steal that led to a fast-break layup by Tyler Brown, which pulled ISU within 22-8, with 6:56 remaining in the first half.
Brown's bucket sparked a 16-0 run over the next five minutes, which consisted of back-to-back three pointers by Jon Ekey and Nick Zeisloft, plus two-consecutive Carmichael layups, including a three-point play that pulled the Redbirds within 22-19.
Zeisloft then tied the game, 22-22, with a three pointer. Ehimen Orukpe answered with one free throw, but Carmichael netted a fade-away jumper on the other end to give Illinois State its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 33 seconds remaining. A straight-away three-pointer by Fred VanVleet with six seconds left, pushed the Shockers back in front at halftime, 26-24.
Brown quickly regained Illinois State's lead with a three-pointer to start the second half. However, Wichita State reestablished a three-point advantage, 36-33, with 15:52 left to play. The Redbirds never led again. Wichita State then outscored ISU, 18-8 over the next eight minutes, to take a 54-41 lead at the 7:45 mark. The Shockers led by double-digits for the final 10 minutes to secure the victory.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.