Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 34° Cloudy
Sports

Wichita State, Florida Gulf Coast advance to NCAA tournament first round

Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio – Wichita State’s guards used their Final Four experience to pull out a defense-dominated First Four game on Tuesday night, leading the way to a 70-50 victory over Vanderbilt.

Fred VanVleeet – the two-time Missouri Valley player of the year – scored 14 points, and Ron Baker also had 14 as Wichita State (25-8) took control at the start of the second half and held on. The seniors were part of Wichita State’s 2013 Final Four team.

The Shockers play Arizona on Thursday in Providence, Rhode Island.

Vanderbilt (19-14) couldn’t take advantage of its pronounced size advantage on offense and never led in the second half. Joe Toye and Riley LaChance had 10 apiece.

The Shockers returned three starters from the team that knocked off Indiana and Kansas to reach the Sweet 16 last year, drawing a No. 10 ranking in the preseason poll. A lot of early injuries – including VanVleet’s pulled hamstring – forced the Shockers to reinvent themselves.

They got yet another setback on Tuesday when VanVleet left to get treated for a cut on the right side of his forehead only a few minutes into the game. He gave the Shockers a pep talk during the next timeout but stayed on the bench.

VanVleet got back into the game with 13:13 left in the half and hit a baseline jumper for his first points. Asked after the game if he would need stitches, he said, “No, I’m not a stitches guy, I don’t do needles. I’ll just butterfly (bandage) it up.”

He and Baker let their tournament experience show at the start of the second half, scoring all the points in an 11-0 run for a 41-30 lead – the biggest by either team up to that point. Baker hit a 3, and VanVleet made a pair from beyond the arc during the spurt.

Vanderbilt cut the lead to one point, but Wichita State dug in and hit back-to-back 3s that pushed it to 57-48 and left the Shockers in control.

Back in health, they’re moving on in the tournament, getting the better of a defensive game.

There were few open shots in a choppy first half that ended tied 30-30 – about what was expected. Wichita State and Vanderbilt ranked sixth and seventh in field-goal defense. The Shockers get pressure with their guards, while the Commodores used their front-line size to redirect shots.

Seven-foot center Damian Jones missed both of his shots and all of his four free throws in the first half as Vanderbilt failed to take advantage of its size on offense. He finished with five points.

Florida Gulf Coast 96, Fairleigh Dickinson 65: Marc-Eddy Norelia scored 20 points and the Eagles (21-13) coasted to a win over the overmatched Knights (18-15).

FGCU, as the No. 16 seed, will play East top-seeded North Carolina on Thursday.

Norelia opened the game with a dunk and the Eagles never relinquished the lead, going on a 23-6 run in the first 10 minutes and opening a 40-19 lead at the half. Fairleigh Dickinson got some looks but couldn’t get much to fall, shooting just 33 percent from the field while playing thoroughly lackluster defense throughout.

Florida Gulf Coast wasn’t the “Dunk City” gang that made the terrific tournament run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed three years ago, instead outmuscling its opponent’s big men inside and spreading the ball around. Julian Debose and Christian Terrell both added 14 for the Eagles, and Demetris Morant added 10. After Norelia’s opening slam, Brian Greene Jr. closed the scoring with a dunk for FGCU.

Norelia was 10 for 11 from the field while grabbing 10 rebounds. FGCU outrebounded the smaller Fairleigh Dickinson squad 52-33 while dominating on the defensive boards.

Earl Potts Jr. led Fairleigh Dickinson with 16 points despite sitting a good chunk of the second half with four fouls. Marques Townes added 13.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.