ST. LOUIS -- Indiana State advanced to its first MVC Tournament Championship since the 2001 campaign with its 61-54 victory on Saturday (March 5) over Wichita State in front of 9,318 fans inside Scottrade Center.
ISU has now won four consecutive games, including seven in a row against Valley opponents and improves to 19-13 while Wichita State fell to 24-8. The Sycamores were swept by the Shockers during the regular season but downed them in the conference tournament, much as ISU earned its first victory over the season in the quarterfinals on Friday against Evansville.
Indiana State is advancing to just its fourth MVC Tournament Championship game in the history of the program, falling in its first appearance back in 1978, 54-52 at Creighton before winning in 1979 against New Mexico State, 69-59 inside Hulman Center and downing Bradley 69-63 in 2001 at Scottrade.
The Sycamores were led by a career-high 14 points from junior Myles Walker, who went 5-of-7 from the field and was 4-of-7 at the free throw line. He added six rebounds. Jake Odum tallied 12 points, going a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line while adding five rebounds with three assists and three rebounds.
ISU improved to a perfect 14-0 on the season when holding teams to 63 points or less and held a 14-9 advantage in points off turnovers. Jordan Printy paced the Sycamores with nine points off the bench.
The Shockers led 27-22 at the half and ran the lead out to 30-22 by converting a traditional 3-point play by JT Durley on the first Wichita State possession of the second stanza. The Sycamores responded with a 13-0 run over the next five minutes as the Sycamores not only took their first lead of the contest but stretched it out to 35-30 on back-to-back baskets by Walker, Carter and Lathan with 14:41 left in the contest.
WSU’s JT Durley stopped the bleeding momentarily with a free throw to cut into the Sycamore advantage, 35-31 on the next possession, but a lay-up Odum pushed the cushion out to 37-31 and following an Odum steal, he found Jordan Printy open for a 3-pointer to make it 40-31 in favor of Indiana State with 13:46 on the clock. The Shockers responded to the push by scoring seven quick points to make it 40-38 as the clock ticked under 12 minutes to go.
Odum stopped the Shocker 7-0 run by converting a pair of free throws with 10:03 remaining which stretch the Sycamore lead out to 42-38. JT Durley poured in a driving lay-up off a second chance opportunity with 9:35 left to trim the ISU lead down to 42-40. Ben Smith converted 1-of-2 free throws with 9:20 on the clock to make it 42-41 and Myles Walker was fouled pulling down a defensive rebound and put the Sycamores into the double bonus after which he hit both free throws to make it 44-41 with 8:50 on the clock. Mahurin took a feed from Lathan after a defensive stop and hit a short jumper to give the Sycamores now a 46-41 advantage. For the second time in the second half, Printy drilled a huge 3-pointer, this off another feed from Odum to give the Sycamores a 49-41 lead. Walker continued the Sycamore spurt with a jumper in the paint from Printy with 6:50 left to give ISU its largest lead at 51-41.
Leading 52-43, Printy worked the shot clock down and drilled his third triple of the second half to stretch the lead out to 55-43.
Wichita worked the Sycamore advantage down to 55-49 as the clock ticked under two minutes and Lathan was called for a charge with 1:29 on the clock. Gabe Blair cut the Sycamore lead down further to 55-51 with 1:03 remaining on a putback. Odum was fouled and hit both free throws to make it 57-51.
The Sycamores iced the game at the free throw line with a pair of charity tosses by Dwayne Lathan and Odum in the final 26 seconds.
Wichita State opened the game on a 7-0 run before the Sycamores scored their first points of the game on a turnaround jumper in the paint by Walker with 16:05 remaining in the first half to inch the Sycamores closer at 7-2. The Shockers were able to work around the Walker bucket by posting another run of six points in succession which gave the Shockers a 13-2 advantage with 12:23 left in the opening stanza.
RJ Mahurin connected on a 3-pointer with 12:10 on the clock to inch the Trees closer, 13-5. The Sycamores remained hot on the offensive and defensive ends with Walker and Odum scoring on back-to-back possessions to creep closer at 18-13. With 7:10 on the clock before the break, Walker scored to cap a 6-0 run which trimmed what was once an 11-point WSU lead down to 18-15.
Follow a Shocker basket, Martin scored on a put-back dunk and then Carter tied the contest at 20 with a trey at the 5:45 mark which knotted the score at 20.
Ben Smith connected on a trey for WSU with 3:20 left in the game to push the Shockers ahead 23-20. With 53.1 seconds left, Walker hit a pair of free throws to trim the Shocker cushion down to 23-22, but WSU scored the final four points of the first half to take a 27-22 lead into the half.
WSU was paced in the game by 18 points from JT Durley.
Indiana State will take on No. 1 seed Missouri State in the State Farm MVC Tournament Championship Game which begins at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised nationally on CBS.