LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) – Shaquille Morris scored 25 points, Landry Shamet added 23 and No. 6 Wichita State got the Maui Invitational off to a wild start by rallying from an 18-point deficit to beat California 92-82 on Monday.
Cal (2-2) used its pressure to harass the Shockers into mistakes and missed shots, building the lead to nine by halftime and 18 within 4 ½ minutes of the second half.
The Shockers (3-0) turned the game around by turning on their own pressure cooker, revving up the crowd by speeding up the young Bears with their full-court press. Cal handled it poorly, leading to a string of turnovers transition baskets that allowed Wichita State to pull even with 5 minutes left.
Wichita State snatched the lead with a late 8-0 run, earning a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals against Marquette.
Don Coleman carried the Bears with 26 first-half points and finished with 35 for his third game of at least 30 points this season. Cal was hurt by foul trouble in the front court, with Kingsley Okorah and Marcus Lee contributing very little until both fouled out.
The Bears had 19 turnovers that led to 29 points for Wichita State and were outscored 46-26 in the paint with their big men neutralized.
Touted as a potential Final Four team with all five starters back, the Shockers started the season short-handed as forward Markis McDuffie heals from a left foot stress fracture.
The Shockers had no trouble against UMKC and College of Charleston to open the season, but the Bears are bigger and badder, even if they are young and playing under new coach Wyking Jones.
Cal went right at the McDuffie-less Shockers early, racing to an 11-point lead in the game’s opening 5 ½ minutes.
Wichita State couldn’t get anything to fall – 4 for 18 to start – and Cal stretched the lead to 29-15 behind Coleman, who had 17 points in the opening 13 minutes.
The Bears continued to attack the Shockers in the second half, going up 58-40 on a 3-pointer by Justice Sueing.
After all the struggling and sideline stalking by coach Gregg Marshall, the Shockers sent a shockwave into the Bears with full-court pressure they couldn’t handle.
Through a string of turnovers, Wichita State scored 10 straight points during a 14-3 run that cut Cal’s lead to 61-54.
The Shockers kept hounding and kept scoring as the fans inside tiny Lahaina Civic Center roared, tying the game at 76-all on Samajae Haynes-Jones’ layup with just over 5 minutes left.
Okorah and Lee both fouled out, leaving the Bears defenseless inside and Wichita State went on an 8-0 run to go up 86-80 – and on to the semifinals.
Wichita State came out flat, but looked like one of the nation’s best teams once it turned up the pressure on the Bears.
Cal showed how good it can be in the first 24 minutes, but also how vulnerable its young players can be to pressure the rest of the way.
Wichita State moves on to face Marquette in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Cal will play VCU in the loser’s bracket on Tuesday.