Coming into Saturday’s action, the nation’s longest home winning streak sat at 43 games. It didn’t belong to a power conference program like most would expect.
The Wichita State Shockers have been virtually untouchable inside Charles Koch Arena over the last year and a half, rolling to 43 straight wins in front of their home crowd.
After a slow start to the season, their recent resurgence and run through conference play has pushed them back into the conversation for serous national title contenders. But, they aren’t the only team in the Missouri Valley Conference who have undergone a big turnaround as of late.
The Northern Iowa Panthers opened conference play with a 2-6 record, and seemingly played their way out of contention. A current five-game winning streak heading into Saturday has turned things around in a big way, and they were looking to make another statement by taking down the Shockers.
It’s never easy to face the Shockers on the road, but the Panthers weren’t fazed early on. They took an 11-point lead into the half, and held on down the stretch.
Wichita State had two chances to the tie game with under 10 seconds left, but Ron Baker and Connor Frankamp each missed a three pointer, and the Panthers put an end to the Shockers’ home winning streak with a 53-50 victory.
It was a back-and-forth start to the game, as the teams would trade baskets, and subsequently the lead, over the first 10 minutes of the game. The largest lead of the game early on was a 4-point advantage for the Shockers, when Baker hit a three-pointer to give them a 19-15 lead with 10:55 to play in the opening half.
Wyatt Lohaus started to heat up for the Panthers. He followed up Baker’s jumper by scoring five straight points for the Panthers to bring them back to within a point. A layup from Klint Carlson shortly thereafter gave the Panthers a 22-21 advantage.
Following the under-4 media timeout, the Panthers took control of the first half on both ends of the court. They held the Shockers scoreless for the final 3:57 of the half, and went on a 12-0 run of their own to take a 38-27 lead into the break.
Early in the second half, a dunk from Wes Washpun pushed the Panthers’ lead to 15, and they were looking to put the game away early. The Shockers responded with a vengeance, and used the energy from their home crowd to fuel their comeback efforts.
Markis McDuffie got things started with a three ball, then Fred VanVleet hit a pair of threes to cut the deficit down to 6, just like that. That opened up a 17-2 run for the Shockers, tying the game up at 44-all with over 11 minutes to play.
Points were at a premium in the second half for both teams. Both teams struggled from the floor, and there were only 15 combined points scored in the final 11 minutes of the game.
Lohaus and Matt Bohannon combined for a 7-0 run to give the Panthers a 51-44 lead, and a layup from Washpun pushed the lead to 53-47 with 3:20 to play.
The Panthers would be held off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game, but the Shockers couldn’t take advantage. Shaq Morris put down a dunk, and made 1 of 2 free throws with under a minute to play to bring the Shockers to within 53-50, but that was as close as they would get.
Wichita State had two shots at tying the game with under 10 seconds to play, but Baker and Frankamp both missed their three-point attempts, and the home win streak for the Shockers came to an end.
Northern Iowa bent, but never broke in the second half, and came away with a 53-50 statement win over the Wichita State Shockers.
Klint Carlson scored a team-high 12 points off the bench for the Panthers, while Wyatt Lohaus added 11 points of his own. As a team, the Panthers shot 41.7% from the floor on the afternoon.
For the Shockers, Ron Baker scored a team-high 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Baker was limited to just 5-of-16 shooting of the day. As a team, Wichita State shot just 30.3% (20-of-66) on the day.
The win continued the turnaround for the Northern Iowa Panthers (16-11, 8-6), who have now won six straight contests in Missouri Valley play. They will look to build off their statement, and keep their run going, when they go on the road to take on the Loyola (IL) Ramblers on Wednesday.
With the loss, the 43-game home winning streak came to an end for the Wichita State Shockers (18-7, 12-2). They will look to start a new streak on Monday, when they welcome the New Mexico State Aggies to town in a rare non-conference game in mid-February.