Mar 24, 2013, 12:01 AM EDT
Wichita State had blown it.
After building a lead that grew as big as 13 points in the first half, the Shockers had watched as Gonzaga outscored them 36-15 over a 15 minute stretch that was capped by a 12-0 run. The surge pushed the Zags ahead 49-41. Their all-american Kelly Olynyk was playing like an all-american. Their star point guard Kevin Pangos had finally heated up. The Zags were simply punishing WSU on the offensive glass. It looked like they were getting ready to put the finishing touches on a trip to the Sweet 16.
No one told Ron Baker.
The freshman shooting guard sparked 31-16 run over the next 11 minutes, scoring 11 of his 16 points and handing out two of his four assists, as the Shockers knocked off No. 1 seed Gonzaga 76-70 to advance to the Sweet 16. Gregg Marshall’s club will take on the winner of No. 12 seed Ole Miss and No. 13 seed La Salle for the right to go to the Elite 8. Think about that.
Baker wasn’t the only freshman making big plays down the stretch, however. Point guard Fred Van Vleet assisted on a pair of threes before drilling a high-arcing, 25-footer over David Stockton with a little more than a minute left on the clock. The shot put Wichita State up three and just about put Gonzaga to sleep.
All told, those two combined for 29 points, seven boards and seven assists. They hit six of Wichita State’s 14 threes and, more importantly, either made or assisted on six of the seven threes that the Shockers hit in the final 12 minutes that erased Gonzaga’s 49-41 lead.
Making this performance all the more impressive? Baker missed 21 games this season. He hadn’t played since December 13th when he saw 19 minutes of action in Wichita State’s win over Missouri State in their MVC tournament opener. He’s not the only Shocker that has missed a significant amount of time this season, either. Carl Hall missed seven games after breaking his thumb. Evan Wessel hasn’t played since December. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Wichita State lost their entire starting lineup from a season ago.
Should I mention that it wasn’t even three weeks ago that Wichita State lost two Missouri Valley titles to Creighton within the span of eight days?
So go right ahead.
Play pick your storyline.
Because there plenty of them.
But the bottom line is that the Shockers lived up to their nickname, knocked off the No. 1 team in the country in thrilling fashion and will live to play another day.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 6, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT
Three of the six schools on this power forward’s list are in the SEC, including his home state’s flagship program.
May 6, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT
Justin Robinson was originally supposed to be a preferred walk-on.
May 6, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Jordan Bell set a single-season school record for blocked shots with 94 last season.
May 6, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
The rising junior is expected to be sidelined for four to six months.
May 6, 2015, 5:19 PM EDT
This is a good pickup for a team that lost its best player in Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young.
May 6, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
Olsen didn’t play much last season, with a nagging hip issue being one of the reasons why.
May 6, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT
No foul play is suspected in her death.
May 6, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
This is the leader in the clubhouse for craziest fan tattoo I have seen.
May 6, 2015, 2:53 PM EDT
Stephen Curry seems like a pretty awesome guy.
May 6, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT
Football is the reason that Memphis is now playing Ole Miss.
May 6, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
While one coach on the list is coming off of an NCAA tournament appearance, there are others who are dealing with NCAA tournament droughts.
May 6, 2015, 12:10 PM EDT
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa blocked 185 shots in three seasons.
May 6, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT
McNeil faces two felony charges for domestic violence.
May 6, 2015, 10:56 AM EDT
Stainbrook is a national treasure. Can we get this kid another year of eligibility?
May 6, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT
Kennedy has led the Rebels to the NCAA tournament two of the last three seasons.
May 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Duquesne picked up an impact guard for three more seasons.
May 5, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT
Nevada landed a Southern Illinois transfer at forward.
May 5, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Oklahoma State has added a big man who could help in the rotation if he’s eligible.
May 5, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
Old Dominion is gaining a transfer from Illinois
May 5, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Florida looks like they’ll be losing a key member of their 2015 recruiting haul.
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