Bryan Holmgren, Assistant Director of Media Relations
HARTFORD, Conn. – No. 8/10 Wichita State’s American Athletic Conference debut went like so many other road games before it. Rashard Kelly logged a double-double, and the Shockers (11-2, 1-0 American) used timely three-point shooting to finish off UConn, 72-62, at the XL Center.
Kelly finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds (half of them on the offensive end) on 5-of-6 shooting. He recorded his 500th career rebound in the first half, becoming just the 40th Shocker to reach that milestone.
The Shockers won the battle of the boards, 47-34, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points.
WSU went 12-of-25 from three-point range (.480). Landry Shamet (5-of-6), Austin Reaves (3-of-4) and Conner Frankamp (3-of-7) did the bulk of the damage.
Shamet logged a team-high 16 points and six assists. Reaves and Frankamp joined him in double-figures with 11 points each.
Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier led UConn (7-6, 0-1 American) with 18 points each. Christian Vital chipped in 17 off the bench.
A sellout crowd of 15,564 was UConn’s first at the XL Center since February, 2016, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Shockers from extending their road winning streak to nine games – tied with Villanova for the nation’s longest.
The Shockers trailed by as many half-a-dozen points midway through the first half but – as has been the case in so many other road games during the Marshall Era – rallied behind their defense.
Down 20-15 at the 7:45-mark, the Shockers held the Huskies without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, during which they turned the tide with a 13-3 run.
In a span of 60 seconds, Frankamp hit a three-pointer then fed Shamet on the next trip down for a transition jumper. Those back-to-back threes gave WSU a 21-20 edge.
Neither team scored the next three minutes. UConn tied the game at 21 on a Christian Vital free throw, but Austin Reaves answered for the Shockers with a pair of threes
Kelly was the Shockers’ leading first-half scorer (7 points) and rebounds (6). Shamet and Reaves added six points each.
WSU shot just 35.7 percent in the half but hit 6-of-13 threes while holding UConn to just 31 percent shooting (2-of-9 from deep).
The Shockers held the lead for the first seven minutes of the second half, but the Huskies hit 6-of-7 shots to move in front, 43-42, with 13:02 to play.
WSU answered with seven-straight. Reaves popped a 15-footer, Shamet buried a three and Willis wormed inside for a layup.
UConn again tied things up 9:25 on Vital’s layup through contact. He missed a free throw that would have put the Huskies in front.
Kelly missed his only shot of the night, but Morris tipped home the miss to put the Shocker in front for good, 51-49, with 8:59 remaining.
Morris’ dunk upped the advantage to five, 56-51, with 5:32 left, and the Shockers held a two-possession margin the rest of the way.
Back-to-back threes from Shamet and Frankamp, followed by a Morris jumper gave WSU its biggest lead of the night, 66-55, with 2:23 remaining, sending fans streaming to the exits.
Markis McDuffie played 16 minutes in his second game back from a stress fracture. He collected four rebounds and – after missing his first six shots – converted two transition baskets in the final minute to put the game on ice.
The Shockers host Houston on Thursday (6 p.m. CT, ESPN) in their American conference home debut.