New York, NY (Sports Network) – Graham Hatch and J.T. Durley both finished with 12 points as Wichita State topped Alabama, 66-57, to win its first National Invitation Tournament title.
Aaron Ellis and Garrett Stutz both added eight points for the Shockers (29-8), who entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed and advanced to the title game with a dominant 75-44 victory over Washington State on Tuesday.
“Just really ecstatic with our victory tonight,” Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall said. “Just a group of guys that deserve everything they have coming to them; an NIT championship, a National Invitational Championship, and they have beaten a lot of good clubs, including Alabama tonight.”
Tony Mitchell paced the Crimson Tide (25-12) with 13 points and 12 rebounds. JaMychal Green scored 12 and both Trevor Releford and Charvez Davis posted 10 points in the loss.
Alabama entered the tournament as a top seed and barely edged Colorado, 62-61, to reach the final.
“They were the better team so we give them credit. At the same time it takes nothing away from our young men and what we accomplished during the course of the season,” ‘Bama head coach Anthony Grant said. "I’m extremely proud of the effort our guys gave us and proud of our seniors."
Trailing 37-34 at the half, the Crimson Tide opened up the second half with a 7-3 run to take a slim 41-40 lead. Chris Hines capped the short Alabama spurt with a 1-of-2 showing from the line, but the Shockers regrouped and began to pull away.
Joe Ragland’s three-point play with 14:32 remaining started an 11-2 Wichita State run that Demetric Williams capped with a layup to give the Shockers a 51-43 edge.
Alabama got as close as 55-51 with a Davis layup and two Hines free throws with 5:51 remaining, but a final 11-1 Shockers run put the game out of reach.
Hatch connected on two three-pointers in the spurt, and after Ragland’s jumper with 2:10 remaining their lead was an insurmountable 66-52.