FORT WORTH – No. 8 seed Wichita State never trailed en route to a 71-61 first round win over No. 9 Temple Monday afternoon in the opening game of the American Athletic Conference Championship.
Wichita State (17-13) advances to the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Championship where the top seed South Florida Bulls await Tuesday at 12 p.m. CT.
DJ McCarty scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with a career-high tying six assists and four rebounds. Trajata Colbert went for 15 points and six rebounds. Shamaryah Duncan and Ambah Kowcun both added 11 to round out the double figure scorers.
For the third straight game, Wichita State hit the 50 percent mark from the field, going 29-for-58. Despite losing the rebound battle, Wichita State scored 21 points off 13 Temple turnovers.
Wichita State dished out 20 assists and committed only 12 turnovers.
Wichita State scored the game’s first eight points, all from Asinde and McCarty, to take an 8-0 lead. At the 3:26 mark that lead jumped to double digits at 13-2 behind a McCarty triple.
Back-to-back scores from Shamaryah Duncan gave the Shockers a 17-8 lead after 10 minutes.
After Wichita State pushed the margin back to 11 to start the second quarter, Temple used an 8-2 spurt to pull within five, 25-20. Ambah Kowcun knocked down a corner three-pointer to make it 28-20, and then both teams went scoreless for more than 2:00 minutes.
Wichita State’s final four points came at the foul line, sending them into the locker room with a 32-25 lead.
Wichita State held Temple to just 31 percent shooting and eight turnovers. Offensively, Wichita State converted on 43 percent of its attempts. McCarty had a game-high tying nine first half points, while Colbert and Duncan added six apiece.
The second half started much like the first. An 8-0 run gave Wichita State its largest lead, 40-25, forcing a Temple timeout just 2:02 into the quarter. Back-to-back three-point plays from McCarty and Colbert capped the run.
Trailing 45-28, Temple put together seven straight to pull within 10, but a Duncan triple snapped the run and made it a 13-point game again.
The final minute of the period was dominated by the Owls. Temple cut that 13-point deficit all the way down to three, 52-49. An off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer saw Temple close on an 8-0 run in just 59 seconds.
On the first possession of the fourth, Temple grabbed an offensive rebound and capitalized with a second chance three-pointer to tie the game at 52.
Temple had a chance to take its first lead on the next possession, but came up empty, and Wichita State never looked back. An 11-2 run forced a Temple timeout, and effectively put the game away. The Owls used up all their energy coming back to tie the game only to see Wichita State have one of its more impressive answers of the season.
Wichita State led 67-57 with 4:13 remaining and Temple would come no closer than eight the rest of the way.