PirateIllustrated - Wichita State Advances in the AAC Tourney 73-57 Over ECU
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Wichita State Advances in the AAC Tourney 73-57 Over ECU

Markis McDuffie scored 15, Jaime Echenique had 14 points to go along with nine boards and Dexter Dennis tossed in 13 points to lead steadily improving Wichita State to a 73-57 win over ECU in the first round of the AAC basketball tournament at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Pirates were outmanned in the paint with two post players injured and ECU committed ten first half turnovers against a Shocker squad that put a heavy emphasis on inside scoring with 34 points in the paint and twenty points from the charity stripe in the victory.

“Our conscious effort was to to go inside. That was our scouting report because we have size,” Greg Marshall, “They’ve got so many guys hurt. LeDay hurt us last time and he didn’t even play tonight. We thought we could get them in foul trouble inside. We didn’t do a great job at times but when we did, we were very effective at scoring and drawing fouls.”

The Shockers have won five straight games and ten of their last twelve and picked up the three game season sweep of the Pirates who hit just 4 of 17 from three point range.

Literally every second half Shocker point came on either a shot in the paint, within six feet of the basket or from the charity stripe with the exception of one Dexter Dennis trey that occurred a minute and a half into the second period.

Jayden Gardner led ECU with 16 points and six rebounds while Shawn Williams added 14 and Isaac Fleming had 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists in his last game as a Pirate.

“Jayden had a really good year. At one point we were shooting 66 percent, but we turned it over and I did think we missed a ton of open shots. We had a lot of step in shots. In the first half we probably had nine or ten shots that we had a chance to make, but I did think Jayden had a good game and competed.”

Dooley talked about Isaac Fleming’s performance in his final game in an ECU uniform at point guard.

“He made some shots at the end and it is disappointing because we’d like to see him finish up a little bit better,” said Dooley, “I did think he had a good end of his career here, especially his turnover to assist ration and he scored the ball and did some good things the last six weeks of the season.”

ECU(10-21/3-16 AAC) kept the game tight early despite having four quick turnovers. The Pirates were aided by 2 for 7 Wichita State(18-13/11-8 AAC) shooting to begin the contest.

Two Asbjorn Midtgaard baskets in the lane for the Shockers was countered by a Shawn Williams three-point bomb for ECU and a massive Justice Obasohan dunk and some harm. The three point play briefly gave the Pirates a 10-8 lead.

But the seven-footer Midtgaard continued to have his way with his third easy inside basket. Then three additional ECU’s turnovers coupled with a Dexter Dennis trey, a Samajae Haynes-Jones layup and a Markis McDuffie basket for his ninth point of the half suddenly had Wichita State up 24-18 with six minutes to go before intermission.

Two Jayden Gardner inside baskets kept the Pirates within four points for a time before Wichita State went on a 11 to 4 scoring run that had the Shockers up 39-27 at halftime.

“The game was 24-20 and I thought that we played well with the exception of turnovers,” Joe Dooley, “Obviously points off of turnovers and points in the post and second chance points were the difference. They just buried us down low.”

Shawn Williams scored nine of his points in the first half for ECU to go along with eight from Isaac Fleming to lead the Pirates who committed ten first half turnovers and had eight less shot opportunities as a result.

ECU limited their turnovers to just two in the second half but six Wichita State free throws, a Jaime Echenique layup and a Samajae Haynes-Jones three-point play off ECU's eleventh turnover of the game expanded the Shocker lead to twenty just four minutes into the second half.

The Shocker lead remained at eighteen points with a minute to play and Wichita State held on for an easy victory.