Missouri St. 67, Wichita St. 64
ST. LOUIS (AP)—Deven Mitchell had 16 points and eight rebounds to help Missouri State to a 67-64 win over Wichita State in the final quarterfinal game at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Friday night.
Blake Ahearn added 12 and Tyler Chaney 11 for the Bears, who will meet Creighton (20-10) in one semifinal. In the other semifinal, top seed and 11th-ranked Southern Illinois University (26-5) meets Bradley (21-11).
It is the first time since 2003 that the top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals.
The game was tight throughout, but Missouri State took a five-point lead at 66-61 with 1:05 left courtesy of Chaney’s lay-up. Karon Bradley cut the lead to 66-64 with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 49.3 seconds left and the Bears’ Nathan Bilyeu left the door open when he made just one of two free throws with 15.1 seconds left.
But the Shockers’ Matt Braeuer, who was 5-for-7 from behind the arc, missed a 3-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer that would have tied the game.
The win moves Missouri State to 22-9 on the year, the same mark as the Bears had in 2005-06. Missouri State was left out of the NCAA Tournament last year after losing to Northern Iowa in the first round of the conference tournament.
Braeuer had 18 points for Wichita State (17-14), which has lost five straight and dropped all three games it played against Missouri State. PJ Couisnard added 17 points for the Shockers.
The evening quarterfinals session drew 16,651 fans, which is the largest attendance for a quarterfinal session in the history of the tournament. Approximately 200 tickets remain for Saturday’s semifinal games at the Scottrade Center, which seats 21,868.
Both teams started out ice cold in the first half. Wichita State made just two of its first nine shots—both 3-pointers from Braeuer—but jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Missouri State missed its first four.
Thanks in large part to Mitchell, who went 5-for-5 from the floor and scored 12 first half points, Missouri State clawed back and took an 18-15 advantage on a Mitchell putback with 9:10 remaining in the first half.
But Wichita State proceeded to go on a 10-0 run with Couisnard and Gal Mekel each scoring five points, to take a 25-18 lead.
Mekel finished with 11 first-half points as the Shockers took a 34-32 lead into the half.