NEW YORK, N.Y. - Wichita State advanced to the Championship game of the National Invitation Tournament for the first time in school history with a 75-44 semifinal win against Washington State Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Junior center Garrett Stutz scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds in the win. The Shockers picked up their school-record 28th win of the season, while also pulling down a season-high 52 rebounds.
The Shockers will face Alabama, the winner of the Tuesday's semifinal against No. 1 seed Colorado.
Toure' Murry and Gabe Blair also finished with double-digit scoring for the No. 4 seed Shockers (28-8. Blair added nine rebounds as well as the Shockers outscored Washington State, 48-18, in the paint.
Casto DeAngelo and Reggie Moore led No. 2 seed Washington State with nine points each. The Cougars finished the season with a 22-13 record and were held without a 3-point field goal in the game.
The Shockers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a three-point play from J.T. Durley, a Murry free throw and Graham Hatch 3-pointer in the first five minutes. Wichita State held the Cougars scoreless for more than 4 1/2 minutes until a jumper from Moore at the 15:20 mark first put Washington State on the scoreboard. The Shockers gained an eight-point edge on a 3-pointer from Stutz. Murry's layup at the 8:10 mark put the Shockers in front, 18-6. A 5-0 Shocker run later in the half resulted in a 13-point lead.
A Stutz 3-pointer and field goal closed the half and pushed the Shockers ahead by 17 points at halftime, 36-19. Stutz paced the Shockers and all scorers with 18 first-half points. Blair led all players with six rebounds, as Wichita State outrebounded the Cougars, 25-10, in the half. The Shockers shot 48.3 percent in the half. Faisal Aden led Washington State with eight first-half points, as the Cougars shot 33.3 percent in the first 20 minutes of play.
Wichita State opened the second half by outscoring the Cougars, 14-6, to take a 25-point lead less than five minutes into the half. A David Kyles' alley-oop dunk off a pass from Graham Hatch pushed the Shockers ahead by 26 points and a Stutz dunk gave Wichita State a 56-28 lead midway through the second half. Two Aaron Ellis field goals pushed the Shockers ahead, 62-30. A Kyles' block and rebound led to a Shockers' fast break and Durley layup at the opposite end of the court. Durley was fouled on the play and turned it into a three-point play by converting the free throw that followed for a 67-36 lead.
Two field goals from Murry and another from Ragland pushed the Shockers ahead by 35 points late in the game. Wichita State, which made its fifth appearance in the NIT semifinals and first since 1966, shot 47.7 percent overall. The Cougars shot 29.4 percent overall.
Tuesday's win marked the fourth-straight for the Shockers in the NIT. Wichita State beat Nebraska in the first round, Virginia Tech in the second round and the College of Charleston in the quarterfinals before adding Tuesday's win against Washington State.
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