LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) – Landry Shamet scored 19 points, Connor Frankamp added 13 and No. 6 Wichita State rode its second-half defense into the Maui Invitational title game with an 80-66 victory over Marquette on Tuesday.
Wichita State (4-0) needed a massive rally just to get into the semifinals after a slow start against California in its opener. The Shockers had no such trouble against Marquette, trading baskets with the Golden Eagles (2-2) in a high-level first half.
Wichita State took control by turning up the defensive pressure in the second half, holding sharpshooters Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey in check long enough to build a 10-point lead.
The Shockers shot 54 percent and had a 44-33 advantage in the paint to earn a spot in Wednesday’s championship game against No. 6 Notre Dame or LSU.
Rowsey had 26 points and Howard 25 for the Golden Eagles, who were held to 10-of-33 shooting in the second half after a stellar first 20 minutes.
Marquette shot its way into the semifinals. Rowsey scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half and Howard had 18 of his 22 in the second to carry the Golden Eagles to a 94-83 win over VCU.
The Shockers appeared to be headed to the loser’s bracket after falling behind by 18 points early in the second half against Cal. Wichita State turned to a full-court press to get back in it and the tactic worked, leading to a string of turnovers and a 92-82 win.
The reward for both teams: An early wake-up call (8:30 a.m. local) to play in the semifinals.
Neither team seemed groggy early, trading 3-pointers, floaters and drives to the basket while hitting a combined 11 of 16 shots.
Howard picked up where he left off in the first round, scoring 17 points in the first half. Rowsey had an incredible four-point play, getting Samajae Haynes-Jones to bite on an up-fake, contorting his body after drawing contact, then making the shot – with his left hand.
Wichita State spread it around while hitting 16 of 30 shots, taking a 41-36 lead into the second half.
The offensive show continued in the second half, with Rowsey scoring seven quick points and the Shockers spreading the scoring wealth.
Then the Shockers clamped down on the Golden Eagles, contesting those long 3-pointers by Rowsey and Howard, challenging everything at the rim. Wichita State held Marquette scoreless for nearly 6 minutes, building a 58-48 lead with a 7-0 run.
Marquette made a short run, but Frankamp hit a pair of 3-pointers and the Shockers kept the Golden Eagles at bay the rest of the way.
Wichita State flexed its defensive muscles in the second half and was good offensively all game to reach its first Maui title game. And they did it without forward Markis McDuffie (foot), their top scorer and rebounder from a year ago.
Marquette showed it can play with one of the top teams in the country in the first half, but couldn’t sustain it to end up in the Maui third-place game.
Wichita State will face the winner between N. 13 Notre Dame and LSU in Wednesday’s title game.
Marquette plays the Notre Dame-LSU loser in the third-place game on Wednesday.