Story by Matt Smith
Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall is a native of Greenwood, SC, but it was his players that looked right at home Sunday at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum. The Shockers eliminated the Tigers 63-55 in the 2nd round of the NIT.
Clemson (20-14) was playing its second consecutive game without injured Shelton Mitchell, who may have helped alleviate the Tigers’ woeful outside shooting. The Tigers shot just 2 of 14 from behind the NIT’s experimental 3-point line moved to the FIBA distance of 22’ 1 ¾”. Clemson was 8 of 18 from behind the arc in the first round of the NIT, but this time they were checked by Wichita State’s defenders.
Marcquise Reed, playing his final game in Clemson’s orange, surpassed 2,000 career points and led the Tigers with 18 points. But the team’s leading scorer was not efficient, making just 5 of 20 shots. He was far from alone, as Clemson was a dreadful 15 of 53 (28%) from the floor, overall. Much of Reed’s difficulties can be credited to the defense of Wichita State guard Samaj Haynes-Jones and his team’s focus on slowing down the Tigers’ top offensive threat.
Reed was the only Tiger in double figures and no Clemson players tallied more than 8 rebounds (Elijah Thomas) or one assist (multiple).
On a day featuring defensive stops and 28 turnovers, Wichita State’s Jaime Echenique was remarkably effective, making 7 of his 8 attempts en route to 18 points. In addition to his defensive work, Haynes-Jones posted the game’s only double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Clemson was down just 29-24 at the end of the 1st half, but Wichita State opened the second stanza with a scoring burst to claim momentum and a 13-point lead. Clemson closed the gap to 58-55 at the 1:20 mark behind its full court pressure, but never quite tracked down the Shockers.
Clemson never held the lead despite shooting more than three times as many foul shots as its opponent. Clemson made 23 of 31 from the stripe, while the Shockers were 7 of 10.
Wichita State will move on to face 1 seed Indiana in the NIT Quarterfinals with a trip to Madison Square Garden on the line. Clemson will turn its attention to next season and replacing key contributors from a 20-win club, especially Marcquise Reed.
BRAD BROWNELL ON LAST-MINUTE LOSSES: