Kansas State advances to 7-1 on the season after a late finish by guard Markquis Nowell, shooting the game-winning free-throws in the final seconds of regulation.
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the game. The first half saw Wichita State shoot 54.5% leading to an early lead.
K-State’s offense shot only 35.8%, less than their season average of 45.7%, and struggled to get their bench involved in scoring. WSU outscored K-State’s bench 12-2 in a game where points were at a premium.
Despite offensive woes, K-State’s defensive effort shined, scoring 17 points off turnovers to WSU’s nine.
Key defensive plays were made by guard Desi Sills and Nowell. Sills made a chase-down block off a breakaway from WSU guard Shammah Scott, preventing WSU from growing their 50-49 lead in the final two minutes of regulation.
Nowell shifted momentum heavily in K-State’s favor off a steal with over a minute left in regulation from WSU, quickly following it up with a three-pointer from deep to make the match 53-50.
“He is such a competitive kid,” head coach Jerome Tang said. “We’ve talked about what kind of shots we want him to take. And I thought all of his shots tonight were quality shots, you know, inside-out threes and just one fall in tonight but you knew he was going to make a big play, whether it was on the defensive end, on the offensive end. He’s gonna make a big play and I just, you know, I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Nowell, while not shooting particularly well (22.2%), made plays when it counted. In the final seconds of regulation he would put down two free throws to end the game with a Wildcat victory.
Even though Nowell did not have a great scoring performance his teammate forwards Keyonte Johnson and Nae’Qwan Tomlin picked up the workload, both scoring over 10 points on the night.
Tomlin was balanced both on offense and defense, scoring a second-best 14 points and putting up two blocks, two steals, and six rebounds.
“We just scrap and claw for everything,” Tang said. “We’ve gotten where we’re at because of hard work and we want our players to understand that and this thing is a fight right? It’s never easy. All the other teams practice hard and you know they have a game plan too. And so, you know, you have to have that fight and understand that. If you let up you’re going to lose right and the no lead up is what allows us to continue to stay in things.”
For WSU, Craig Porter Jr. was their largest impact player, leading the team in points, steals, blocks and second in rebounds. Porter had success from beyond the arc, shooting 50% off of eight attempts from three.
The K-State Wildcats will stay in Bramlage to face off against the Abilene Christian Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6.