Score: Wichita State 72, La Salle 58
Key stats: The Shockers scored 40 points in the lane (to 26 for La Salle) and made 5 of 12 three-pointers, a near-perfect blend of inside-out efficiency.
How the game turned: WSU scored the first points of the game on a Carl Hall layup, starting the Shockers on their way to leads of 14-2 and 17-3.
Records: WSU 29-8, La Salle 58
- The Final Four is 40 minutes away. There is no way to tell how the Shockers react to that stage. So far, nothing seems to bother them. They’ve played long stretches of top-level basketball in the past three games, which is more than most teams can muster up.
- WSU’s defense starts with sophomore guard Tekele Cotton blanking out the opposing team’s top perimeter scorer. “That’s a great thing, isn’t it,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “It’s comforting for a guy that likes defense and rebounding as much as I do. I thought his defensive night on Ramon Galloway was a big key in the game.” Galloway averaged 21.3 points and made 46.5 percent of his shots in NCAA games against Boise State, Kansas State and Mississippi. He scored 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting against WSU. Cotton, with help from others, removed Galloway as a signficant part of Thursday’s game. He forced two airballs early and rarely let him get an open look. When Galloway did get open, he was often several steps behind the three-point line. He made at least one long three, but that’s not a shot that is going to win games. La Salle had no chance to rally with its leader locked up by Cotton.
- The NCAA matched La Salle with Boise State on March 17 and they played on March 20. Two days later, La Salle played Kansas State and two days later met Mississippi. WSU had three days to prepare (allowing time for travel) and I would guess that helped. The Shockers certainly had a plan and stuck that plan down the throats of the Explorers in the first half. “That first half killed us,” La Salle guard Tyreek Duren said.
- Malcolm Armstead is averaging 16 points a game in the NCAAs, making 39.5 percent of his shots (15 of 38) and 4 of 15 threes. He has 12 assists and five turnovers. Ron Baker averages 11.7 points, making 9 of 18 shots and 6 of 14 threes. Carl Hall is averaging 11.7 points, shooting 13 of 23 from the field. Cleanthony Early is averaging 15 points, making 17 of 37 shots.
Next up: vs. Ohio State, 4:05 p.m. Saturday (CBS)