Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 3/10/13
Ben Weixlmann, a 2011 Saint Louis University graduate, covers SLU mens basketball and Atlantic 10 recruiting for BillikenReport.com on the FOXScout.com network. Weixlmanns work has been featured on many national outlets, including MSN, FOX Sports and BleacherReport. ST. LOUIS Trailing top-seeded Creighton by 11 points with 3:32 remaining in the MVC Championship, the Wichita State Shockers were seemingly out of it. But senior Malcolm Armstead wasnt ready to quit. The Oregon transfer, who wanted to reach the NCAA Tournament so badly that he paid his own way to come to Wichita, poured in a career-high 28 points and nine rebounds. His triple with 43 seconds left cut the Bluejays lead to one. Creighton junior guard Jahenns Manigats layin with 12 seconds left created the final spread as Armsteads 25-foot contested three-point attempt went tumbling off the left side of the rim. With a 26-8 overall record and 12-6 MVC performance, Wichita State will more than likely get into the NCAA Tournament. But head coach Gregg Marshall was resigned to sadness. His group of seniors, including Armstead, that he cherished so much never got to celebrate a league title. "Im just disappointed they havent cut nets down yet," he said. "I do believe that the group thats in the locker room will do so many times. I dont know how many, but I think it will be multiple times in the next two, three years." It looked bleak on more than just one occasion for the Shockers. A scoring barrage by Ethan Wragge put CU up 19-7 after both teams started ice-cold from the field, beginning the game a combined 0-for-15. Then, at some point, the Law of Averages came into play. The wild finish more than made up for the nervous beginning. Despite All-American Doug McDermott getting much of the attention and Armstead firing on all cylinders, perhaps the best battle was between big men -- pitting Gregory Echenique of Creighton and WSUs workhorse Carl Hall. Hall, who had dominated many opponents in the paint all year, was stymied and failed to find a rhythm. "Gregorys just big and he makes it tough on you trying to score over him or going through him," he said. "He makes things difficult on the block because of his size and weight." The paint issues were somewhat of a microcosm for the afternoon as a whole. Since 2010, the Shockers are 75-14 when outrebounding their opponent, something they did not do today. "To me, it felt like we were Muhammad Ali out there boxing the whole time," freshman guard Ron Baker said. "Went through all the rounds. We were on the ropes there after the last media timeout, and we fought back." In a knockdown, dragout affair, Creighton landed the final blow. Marshall and his team have an immediate future to get prepared for, though. A much-needed day off for players and staff included will give way to more hardwork next week. As grueling as coaching is, the WSU head man was pleased that his players stuck to it until the end and showed significant mental fortitude. "Its a labor of love because its hard," he said. "Its emotionally taxing. The ups-and-downs. Its physically demanding. . .and hopefully the guys can heal their nicks and bruises, and we can start getting better on Wednesday." A push in The Big Dance will be well-worth the agony for Marshall and his staff, who are trying hard to provide a fitting and successful end for a quality bunch of seniors.
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