Sycamores Fall to Shockers in MVC Championship

Published 03/09 2014 10:38PM

Updated 03/09 2014 11:43PM

ST. LOUIS -- The Sycamores never once backed down against the nationally-ranked and undefeated Wichita State Shockers, but could not get the over the hump in the second half as they fell 83-69 in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship Game in front of 12,125 fans inside Scottrade Center.

Indiana State drops to 23-10 while the Shockers improve to 34-0. The Sycamores' 23 victories are the most in a season since the Larry Bird led 1978-79 campaign.

Justin Gant and Manny Arop each led the Sycamores with 18 points. Indiana State hit 23-of-56 shots from the field (41.1 percent) while the Shockers connected on 27-of-60 (45 percent).

Arop led the way for the Sycamores in rebounding as he posted seven caroms to go with his 18 points.

Wichita State led by 10 at the half and stretched the lead to 44-29 by scoring the first five points of the second half. At the 17:10 mark, Justin Gant opened things up for the Sycamores with a jumper and kickstarted a 9-0 run which was capped by a 3-pointer from Jake Kitchell with 14:52 remaining which made it 44-38.

The Shockers got a conventional 3-point by from Cleanthony Early to stretch their cushion out to nine points but the Sycamores roared back with five in a row including a free throw by Cummings with 13:06 remaining. Wichita State answered with consecutive trifectas to stretch the lead back out to double digits.

The Sycamores battled right back with five more in a row, including a 3-pointer from Gant at the 11:37 which got the Sycamores within 53-48. Ron Baker scored for the Shockers but Odum was able to answer with a pair of free throws to keep the Wichita lead at five points.

That would be as close as Indiana State would get the rest of the way as the Shockers went on a 13-0 run to take a 68-50 lead at the 5:39 mark. A dunk by Arop ended the spurt and drew the Trees within 68-52. Arop was then fouled on a 3-point attempt on the next trip down the floor and converted all of his attempts to make it 68-55.

The Sycamores never went away as late game treys by Gant, Cummings and Eitel trimmed the Wichita State advantage down to 75-67 with two minutes remaining.

Indiana State held a 2-0 lead after Manny Arop's lay-up to start the game. Gant countered a Cleanthony Early treifecta on the second possession and the Shockers led 5-4. Wichita State owned a 10-4 advantage before the Sycamores scored six in a row, capped off by a Gant 3-pointer at the 14:58 mark which knotted the score at 10.

The Shockers would score 12 points in a row for a 23-11 lead before Jake Kitchell's tip-in at the 9:17 mark got the Sycamores within 23-13. Manny Arop tallied a 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in the first half to cut the Shockers lead down to 39-29. Arop paced the Sycamores with nine points while Gant had seven at the half.

Indiana State will learn its postseason fate on Sunday, March 16.

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