La Salle entered Thursday’s contest against Wichita State needing to keep the Shockers off the offensive glass if they were to have any shot of advancing to the Elite Eight.
The Explorers failed to do so, and the combination of Wichita State’s rebounding prowess and solid defense led to a 72-58 Shocker victory that was more lopsided that the margin would indicate.
Gregg Marshall’s team shot 44.8% from the field and out-rebounded La Salle 47-29, managing to rebound nearly 46% of their missed shots and score 40 points in the paint. Malcolm Armstead scored 18 points and Carl Hall added 16 for Wichita State, which opened the game on a 17-3 run.
And despite an early second half La Salle run sparked by forward Jerrell Wright (16 points, five rebounds) there wasn’t much suspense at Staples Center, as the Explorers’ surprising run came to a screeching halt. The pre-game message from Marshall to his players was that they belonged on this stage, and Wichita State showed that his assessment was correct.
In each of their three tournament games the Shockers have limited the opposition to 36% (or less) shooting from the field. La Salle managed to make just 35.7% of its shots, and leading scorer Ramon Galloway (4-of-15 FG) was held in check for much of the night.
Next up for the Shockers is 2-seed Ohio State, which will enter the game as the prohibitive favorite in the eyes of many. But it would be unwise to sell Wichita State short, as the Shockers are a team more than capable of advancing to the Final Four.