ST. LOUIS — Devonte Brown turned in a defensive play that saved Indiana State’s season and advanced the Sycamores into Saturday’s semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament.
Brown blocked a layup by Ned Cox at the buzzer to preserve Indiana State’s 51-50 win in Friday’s second quarterfinal game. The victory advanced the Sycamores into a semifinal meeting against Creighton at 1:35 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m just happy for our guys, gutting this one out and getting a chance to play another day against the conference champ,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “That’s what the postseason is all about. You’ve got to beat three good teams to go to the NCAA tournament, and Creighton is next on the schedule.”
Justin Gant made the second of two free throws with two seconds to play to give Indiana State its winning point. Evansville set up one last play, with a court-length pass bouncing off one of its players to Cox.
He caught the ball and drove to the hoop but Brown blocked the layup attempt as the buzzer sounded.
“Somebody had to make a play,” said Brown, who came off the bench to lead the Sycamores with 11 points. “I just sprinted, got there and got the block. We had a breakdown, and I just had to get there and help my teammate out.”
Indiana State, the tournament’s fourth seed, had a four-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 18-14. The Purple Aces shot 35.7 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from 3-point range, with first-team All-Valley guard Colt Ryan experiencing a tough afternoon.
He made just 4 of 18 field-goal attempts in scoring eight points, a dozen under his average. Freshman centr Egidijus Mockevicius led Evansville with 11 points, while D.J. Balentine had 10 and Troy Taylor nine.
Taylor missed two free throws with 22 seconds to play.
“I’m proud of my team and the way we hung in there, putting ourselves in position where we had a chance to win,” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “Unfortunately, Indiana State made one more play than we were able to.”
Lansing knows the Sycamores will have to do more than that in the semifinals against Creighton. Indiana State handed Creighton its worse loss of the season in positing a 76-57 victory at home on Feb. 6. The Bluejays won the other meeting between the teams, posting a 79-66 victory in early January.
“If I were them, I’d want a piece of us after that,” Lansing said, referring to the Feb. 6 win. “We got them on a bad night. We played well, as well as we played all year, but that’s one of the better teams in the country with one of the top players.”
Shockers bounce back
Wichita State bounced back from losing the Valley championship on the final day of the regular season to eliminate Missouri State from the conference tournament on Friday.
Carl Hall had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Ron Baker scored 15 points in his first game since mid-December in helping the Shockers post a 69-59 win and improve to 25-7.
Baker had missed the last 21 games with a foot injury but made 5 of 7 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 3-point attempts. Nine of Hall’s rebounds came on the offensive end, which helped the Shockers to a 22-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“Carl was jus the Carl we’ve grown to know and love,” Wichita State Gregg Marshall said. “He was a beast getting every second-chance opportunity. And Jake White was very good tonight.”
White had four offensive rebounds and scored nine points. Overall, 20 of Wichita State’s 43 rebounds came on the offensive end.
Baker’s return is big for the Shockers, Marshall said.
“We’re deeper because we added Ron back to the fold,” Marshall said. “He was a big key for us tonight. He got a couple of easy shots for us by moving in motion, and he’s one of our better defenders.”
Missouri State got 25 points from freshman Marcus Marshall in ending its season at 11-22.
Redbirds fly past NIU
Tyler Brown remained a red-hot scorer as his 28 points powered Illinois State to a 73-65 victory over third-seeded Northern Iowa.
Brown had averaged 25 points in eight games prior to the quarterfinal matchup. The senior guard made six 3-point baskets in a 10-for-17 shooting night and also grabbed nine rebounds.
The victory improved the sixth-seeded Redbirds to 18-14 and advanced them to a semifinal game against second-seeded Wichita State. Jackie Carmichael added 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for Illinos State.
Marc Sonnen led 18-14 Northern Iowa with 16 points, while Anthony James added 15.
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