N. Iowa 63, No. 16 Wichita St. 59
WICHITA, Kan. (AP)—Here’s a shocker: Northern Iowa, not Wichita State, might be the class of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The inside duo of Grant Stout and Eric Coleman took over late in the game and the Panthers handed No. 16 Wichita State its third straight loss, 63-59 on Saturday night.
It was the Panthers’ third straight win over Wichita State, and the third consecutive time they’ve come into hostile, sold-out Charles Koch Arena and walked out with a victory. Northern Iowa has won seven of its last nine against the Shockers and coach Mark Turgeon.
“They’ve come in and they’ve beat us every time,” Turgeon said, shaking his head. “But every time they come in we’re in a little drought.”
The Shockers began the season 9-0, which tied for the best start in school history and included road wins over ranked teams LSU and Syracuse. But two losses in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic and a blown lead against the Panthers suddenly have the mid-major darlings reeling.
“We’re just not very good right now,” Turgeon said. “We have to get better.”
Especially against teams such as Northern Iowa (11-2, 2-0 Missouri Valley Conference), which has gone to three consecutive NCAA tournaments and has barely skipped a beat following the departure of coach Greg McDermott to Iowa State after last season.
Northern Iowa has already knocked off Iowa and beaten McDermott’s Cyclones this season. The win over Wichita State is the first against a ranked team on the road since the program turned Division I in 1981.
“This gives us some confidence,” first-year coach Ben Jacobson said. “This is a huge win—to come on the road and get our first road win in Valley play is huge.”
Stout was the difference, pulling down nine rebounds and scoring 11 of his 17 points in the final 10 minutes.
The 6-foot-8 forward from tiny New Sharon, Iowa, jump-started an 18-4 second-half run that gave Northern Iowa its first lead of the game. Stout’s turnaround jumper with 1:34 left that gave Northern Iowa a 58-53 lead.
“I think he won the game, basically,” Turgeon said. “He made two huge fade-away jump shots late.”
The Shockers managed to cut the advantage to 62-59 with less than a minute to go, but Kyle Wilson air-balled a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left and Coleman made a free throw to put the game away.
“They were paying a lot of attention to Eric and Grant,” Jacobson said. “It’s important when that happens that we’ve got some guys to make shots.”
Brooks McKowen added 13 points, including four clutch free throws in the final minute and a half. Coleman finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for Northern Iowa, his seventh double-double in the last eight games.
“You know you’re in for a dogfight,” Coleman said of playing at Wichita State. “You’re going to have to give it your all for the whole game just to come close to pulling out a win here. … It comes down to toughness.”
Wilson scored 18 points to lead the Shockers (9-3, 0-1 MVC), who made a trendy splash on the national radar last March with their improbable run to the NCAA round of 16. But Wilson was the only player to step up in the second half against Northern Iowa, as Wichita State struggled to get transition baskets and watched its field-goal percentage plummet.
Phillip Thomasson scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half for Wichita State, which is 32-6 at home since 2004 with three of the losses to Northern Iowa. Matt Braeuer had 10 points but was only 3-of-11 shooting.
The Shockers appeared to be shrugging off their sluggish Las Vegas performance early. They scored the first five points and never trailed in the first half, a stingy defense in the half-court holding the Panthers to only 8-of-29 shooting.
Sean Ogirri gave the Shockers their biggest lead of the half, 25-19, with a fall-away 3 with under a minute to go. But McKowen converted a 3-point play at the other end to make it 25-22 at the break.
“It’s pretty discouraging,” Turgeon said. “I don’t think we’ve lost confidence. Obviously, losing three in a row is not fun, but we’ve got to get better. We’re just not getting better. We’re staying the same.”