CANCUN, Mexico — Erik Stevenson scored all 19 of his points before halftime to help Wichita State run away from South Carolina, 70-47, Tuesday evening in a Cancun Challenge Semifinal matchup.
WSU (6-0) scored the last 12 points of the first half to take a 41-22 advantage and led by as many as 25 points down the stretch.
The Shockers’ 6-0 start is their best since the 2013-14 season when they became the first 35-0 team in NCAA history.
They’ll face another unbeaten – either Northern Iowa (6-0) or West Virginia (4-0) — in Wednesday night’s title game (7:30 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network).
Stevenson finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting and collected eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in 30 minutes.
Trey Wade added 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 26 minutes.
Jamarius Burton joined them in double-figures with 10 points and a team-high five assists.
Malik Kotsar led USC (4-2) with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
WSU never trailed and held a double-digit lead for 32 of the 40 minutes.
The Shockers outrebounded USC, 43-34. They committed a season-high 16 turnovers but forced 19.
USC shot 32.1 percent from the field, due in part to its lack of success in transition. The Shockers outscored the Gamecocks 11-2 on fastbreak points. USC compounded its scoring struggles by missing nine of its 17 free throw tries.
Against a USC team that came in ranked among the national leaders in field goal percentage defense, WSU hit 15-of-27 in the first half (.565) before slumping to 41.1 percent for the game.
The Shockers made just 8-of-29 shots in the second half (.276) but added to their lead by taking better care of the basketball. They committed just three second-half turnovers.
Toughness set the tone. WSU used a 15-2 run in the game’s early stages to build a double-digit advantage.
With WSU clinging to an 8-5 lead, Stevenson scored the next seven points. Burton followed with back-to-back jumpers, then fed Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler for an easy dunk. Jaime Echenique’s short jumper made it a 23-7 game near the midway point of the first half.
USC closed to within 29-22 with 2:50 to play before the intermission, but the Shockers quickly reengaged and closed the half on a 12-0 run.
Wade stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer. Stevenson converted a three-point play on the next trip, then tacked on two free throws. Sherfield’s driving layup continued the run, and Midtgaard sent WSU into the half with a block on one end and hustling, tip-dunk on the other for a 41-22 advantage.
Stevenson’s 19 first-half points came on 6-of-10 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and recorded two steals.
The Shockers outrebounded USC 25-12 in the first 20 minutes. They committed 13 turnovers (three more than their season average coming in) but forced 11.
WSU shot 55.6 percent from the field while holding the Gamecocks to a paltry 31 percent (9-of-29).
Tyson Etienne scored all eight of his points after halftime to go with five-each from Wade and Dexter Dennis. WSU outscored USC 29-25 in the second half.