WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita State won their 17th consecutive season opener and their sixth in a row under head coach Gregg Marshall defeating North Carolina Central, 71-57, Sat. evening in Charles Koch Arena.
Ron Baker led a trio of Shockers in double figures with 18 points including four 3-pointers. Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early added 17 and 11 points, respectively. Hall collected a team-high 13 rebounds in the victory.
Wichita State (1-0, 0-0), with four of five starters making their first career start in a Shocker uniform, showed no sign of nerves as they raced out to a 9-2 lead on Hall's layup at the 16:52 mark.
North Carolina Central (0-1, 0-0) was able to whether the early Shocker surge following Early's layup at the 16:00 mark that gave WSU an 11-4 lead, the Eagles held the Shockers without a field goal the next 5:24 closing to within one, 12-11.
Hall, a preseason honorable mention All-MVC selection and the lone WSU starter who started a game during the Shockers 2011-12 MVC regular season championship campaign, gave the Shockers the lift they needed drawing an old-fashioned 3-point play on a driving layup and subsequent free throw with 7:56 left in the first half.
Beginning with Hall's layup the Shockers went on a 13-0 run with Baker netting a pair of threes and sophomore Evan Wessel adding another to gain a 29-14 advantage with 3:37 left in the half.
The Shockers closed the half on a 20-4 run spanning the final 8:11 to take a 36-18 lead into the halftime break. Baker led WSU with 11 points in the half connecting on 3-of-4 3-pointers.
North Carolina Central outscored the Shockers, 39-35, in the second half and cut the WSU lead to 13 with two minutes to play, 65-52. The late rally proved to be too little, too late as the two teams traded baskets over the final possessions.
Sophomore Tekele Cotton provided the home crowd with the play of the night on a breakaway highlight reel dunk over NCCU's Ray Willis at the 8:13 mark in the second half drawing a foul in the process.
The Shockers are in action next when they travel to Virginia Commonwealth Tues., Nov. 13 for a rematch of last seasons second round NCAA Tournament game from Portland, Ore. The game will tip-off at 6 p.m. (CST).