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Shockers Silence Memphis in AAC Championship Second Round

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FORT WORTH (GoShockers.com) – No. 12 seed Wichita State snapped a nine-game losing streak vs. fifth-seeded Memphis, eliminating the Tigers in the second round of the American Athletic Conference Championship, 71-65, Thursday afternoon at Dickies Arena.

BOX SCORE

Wichita State (15-18) advances to Friday’s quarterfinals and will face fourth-seeded UAB at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. Memphis’ loss means there will be a new champion crowned and the Tigers will not repeat as the tournament champs.

This will be Wichita State’s fifth American Championship quarterfinal appearance in seven years.

The Shockers had been 1-10 in their last 11 games vs. Memphis. In the game at Memphis back in February, Wichita State also led by 14, eventually falling on a last second shot by David Jones. This game was trending that direction again after Wichita State led by as many as 14 in the second half only to see the Tigers claw back to take the lead.

Harlond Beverly was two assists shy of a 5-by-5 stat line. He scored a team-high 17 points and added six rebounds, five steals and five blocks. His five steals and five blocks were a career high.

Colby Rogers added 13 points and Bijan Cortes finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. Cortes has scored 10 or more in back-to-back games.

Wichita State shot 47 percent, but the defensive end was the key. The Shockers held Memphis to 36 percent shooting and 8-of-29 from behind the three-point line.

An entertaining first half saw the Shockers take a 35-33 lead into halftime behind 54 percent shooting from the field. Neither team led by more than five. Wichita State’s defense was particularly impressive, holding the Tigers to less than 40 percent shooting and just 4-of-12 from three-point range.

Dalen Ridgnal (8) and Bijan Cortes (7) led a balanced scoring attack that saw all eight players who saw action, score in the first half.

Wichita State had Memphis on its heels to start the second half. The Shockers scored the first nine points on a pair of thunderous dunks from Quincy Ballard, a Cortes floater and a Rogers triple. The 9-0 run put Wichita State up 44-33, forcing a Memphis timeout not even 4:00 minutes in.

With 10:06 remaining a Ronnie DeGray III jumper gave Wichita State its largest lead, 55-41, but Memphis was not about to go down without a fight. Nine straight cut the margin to five, 55-50.

After a pair of Rogers free throws snapped the 9-0 run, Memphis came right back with another 8-0 run to retake the lead, 58-57. That lead lasted all of 22 seconds as Cortes and Ballard connected on an alley-oop on the next possession. Wichita State would not relinquish the lead again.

A stepback triple from Rogers with 2:26 to go made it a four-point game, silencing the Memphis faithful. An offensive rebound putback from DeGray then pushed it to 64-58 with 1:33 left. Back-to-back Beverly layups after Memphis scores kept it a six-point game with 43 seconds on the clock.

Two Cortes free throws iced the game in the final seconds after a Memphis three brought it back to four.