Wichita State faces a tense week of what-ifs and bracket watching after Saturday’s 57-52 overtime loss to No. 4 seed Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The top-seeded Shockers, 24-8, must wait a week to find out their NCAA Tournament at-large fate. Northern Iowa, 21-12, will try to repeat as tournament champion today. The Panthers will face second-seeded Evansville, which knocked out Indiana State 68-42 in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Wichita State was cold in this one, particularly on three-pointers. The Shockers shot 32 percent from the field and made 2 of 24 threes. Anton Grady led the Shockers with 14 points before fouling out. Ron Baker added 12 points.
Still, Wichita State had the lead for most of the game. But the Panthers, who had a tough time getting the ball in the basket themselves, put it together when it mattered.
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Northern Iowa outscored Wichita State 24-18 in the second half and then 10-5 in the overtime. The Panthers didn’t get their first lead — at 45-43 — until 4:57 left in regulation on a three-point play by Wes Washpun, who finished with a game-high 20 points.
Neither team could do much offensively from there as regulation ended with the game tied 47-47.
Jeremy Morgan’s three with 1:18 left put Northern Iowa up 55-52, and the Panthers held on from there.
“Just disappointed, obviously ... we never take losses well,” said Wichita State’s star point guard Fred VanVleet, who finished with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting and had a pair of crucial turnovers down the stretch.
Sophomore guard Conner Frankamp wanted to look forward.
“We feel like we’ll definitely be playing somewhere, we just hope it’s the NCAA Tournament,” Frankamp said. “We want to be in the Big Dance.”
Wichita State had won six straight games. The Shockers last loss was at home to Northern Iowa 53-50 on Feb. 13.
▪ Penn Valley advanced to the NJCAA Division II national tournament with a 99-91 victory over North Arkansas on Saturday in the District XIII championship game at Penn Valley. Walter Sorrells led Penn Valley with 26 points and seven assists.
The national tournament begins on March 15 in Danville, Ill.
▪ Jasmine Webb scored 25 points for the MidAmerica Nazarene girls, and the Pioneers beat Benedictine 67-51 in Olathe in the semifinals of the Heart of America Conference tournament.
The Pioneers, seeded second, will face No. 4 seed Baker in the title game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Baker knocked off top-seeded Central Methodist 64-59 in Fayette, Missouri. Sydney Buchel led Baker with 17 points.
▪ The Drury women had their 14-game win streak snapped in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament. Drury fell to Bellarmine 80-77 in St. Charles, Mo. Drury’s Annie Armstrong finished with a season-high 27 points.
| Star news services contributed to this report