WICHITA It was no easy task, but 10th-ranked Wichita State was finally able to shake off a scrappy Davidson University squad 81-70 Sunday afternoon at Koch Arena.
Wichita led most of the way, but was never comfortable in that lead.
"This was a tough ballgame, which we knew it would be," Shocker coach Gregg Marshall said. "Those guys wouldn't quit. We're happy to go into the new year unscathed. That team, now that De'Mon (Brooks) is back, they are going to win a lot of games. By the end of the year, they are going to be a much better team. ... Those guys could easily play in our league. They go into the (Atlantic) 10 next year. They're a good team. You have to make play after play after play to beat them."
"That was a great college basketball game played in an outstanding environment," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "It was an electric atmosphere. I thought our guys fought for 40 minutes. Wichita State is a top-10 team. They score inside, they score outside, they score in transition. Their defense was superb. They made every shot difficult. They closed us down in the paint. They closed us down in transition. They certainly deserved this."
The Wildcats won the game from the field 59-53, but was outscored 28-11 from the free throw line.
"I thought we were able to drive it better," Marshall said. "We got to the line 41 times, which is a lot for us. We were able to drive it into the paint."
"They shot 41 and we shot 16, so there were a lot of fouls on us," McKillop said.
Cleanthony Early led the 13-0 Shockers with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Ron Baker aded 15 points, hitting 12 of 15 from the line. Darius Carter scored 13 and Tekele Cotton scored 10.
Tyler Kalinoski scored 17 points for Davidson, 4-9. Tom Droney scored 12 points and De'Mon Brooks and Jake Belford each added 10.
The Shockers led by as many as seven in the first half, but was never able to shake Davidson. A Jake Belford trey with 1:32 remaining in the half put the Wildcats up 32-31. Evan Wessel tied the game with one of two free throws 40 seconds later, followed by a pair of Darius Carter free throws after a turnover.
A Carter outback at the buzzer put the Shockers up 36-32 at intermission.
Again, the Shockers led by as many as seven early in the second half, but were quickly reeled back in.
Davidson got into foul trouble in the half, allowing the Shockers to get up by eight with 13:59 in regulation.
An Early trey with 12:14 remaining put the Shockers up by nine. The Wildcats fought back, drawing as close as four, missing chances to draw closer. A Van Vleet trey with 3:48 to play put the Shockers back up by seven. After a defensive stop, Carter hit one of two free throws.
Early hit one of two free throws with 2:09 remaining to put the Shockers back up by nine. Baker followed with two free throws 25 seconds later to finally put the Shocker lead in double digits.
After a Davidson trey, Baker put things away with two free throws with 1:10 remaining.
"Everytime we were right there, knocking on the door, they would make a play," McKillop said. "We get stripped of the ball and Van Vleet hits a three. We drove the paint, get stripped on the way up. It was a four-point game. We mishandle an entry pass. We made some mistakes, some created by them and some made by us."
"You have to be there and contest as best as you can without fouling them," Marshall said. "That's what they do. They shot the ball. Both teams shot 42, 43 percent and change. They shot 37 (percent) from the three."
Wichita State opens conference play at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Southern Illinois.
DAVIDSON (4-9) Sullivan 2-10 2-2 8, Kalinoski 6-7 2-3 17, Droney 4-10 3-5 12, Brooks 2-7 4-6 10, Czerapowicz 3-8 0-0 7, Barham 1-4 0-0 2, Gibbs 2-6 0-0 4, Belford 4-4 0-0 10, McAuliffe 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 24-56 11-16 70.
WICHITA STATE (13-0) Early 8-15 5-6 24, Carter 3-7 7-13 13, VanVleet 3-8 2-3 9, Baker 1-5 12-14 15, Cotton 4-9 1-2 10, Lufile 0-0 0-0 0, Wessel 1-3 1-2 3, Bush 0-0 0-0 0, Simon 0-0 0-0 0, Wiggins 2-6 0-0 5, Coleby 1-1 0-1 2, TOTALS 23-54 28-41 81.
Davidson 32 38 70
Wichita St. 36 45 81
Total fouls DU 29, WSU 16. Technical fouls none. Fouled out DU Brooks (2:09-2h), Czerapowicz (:43.7-2h), Kalinowski (:12.2-2h). 3-point shooting DU 11-28 (Kalinoski 3-4, Belford 2-2, Brooks 2-5, Sullivan 2-7, Czerapowicz 1-3, Droney 1-4, Gibbs 0-3), WSU 7-19 (Early 3-6, Wiggins 1-1, Cotton 1-3, Baker 1-3, VanVleet 1-4, Wessel 0-2). Rebounds DU 35 (Brooks 7), WSU 39 (Early 10). Assists DU 14 (Kalinoski 6), WSU 12 (Baker 5). Turnovers DU 15 (Droney 3, Brooks 3), WSU 9 (Baker 2, Wiggins 2). Blocked shots DU 2 (Kalinoski 1, Brooks 1), WSU 7 (Cotton 4). Steals DU 2 (Barham 1, Belford 1), WSU 8 (Van Vleet 4). Officials Natilli, Eades, Groover. Attendance 10,506.