No. 9 Wichita State, out of the underrated Missouri Valley Conference, will not be shocking anybody anymore after defeating tough Pittsburgh, knocking out No. 1 Gonzaga, and pummeling La Salle on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 battle in the West Regional 72-58.
The Shockers, with their tough defense and rebounding and timely shooting, wore down a La Salle team, out of the Atlantic-10 Conference, that only has one true big man in Jerrell Wright, who had 16 points. Tyrone “Southwest Philly Floater” Garland added 16 for the Explorers in a losing effort.
La Salle, the No. 13 seed, won a play-in game against Boise State and then defeated No. 4 Kansas State and No. 12 Ole Miss to make it to the Sweet 16.
The Shockers sprinted past La Salle, and the Explorers could not get the lead below 11 points in the second half in what was a comfortable and dominant win for Wichita State.
Malcolm Armstead had 18, Carl Hall, who dominated in the paint, had 16, and Ron Baker had 13 for the Shockers.
The Shockers will face No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four. The matchup will feature two teams who play similar grind-it-out and counterpunching styles.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is one of the game’s best coaches and his star continues to get brighter this tournament on the national stage.