What do you do when your team misses its first 13 shots? Try to make the other team miss, too.
Illinois State went more than 12 and a half minutes without making a field goal against Wichita State on Satuday, falling behind by 16 points before inexplicably coming back to briefly take a lead before halftime.
The Redbirds switched to a version of matchup zone, a defense that ISU coach Dan Muller said they hadn't tried all season.
"I thought it confused (the Shockers) a little bit," Muller said.
Only temporarily. WSU finished strong for the second straight game, taking a 66-51 victory to advance to the Missouri Valley Conference championship game against Creighton at 1 p.m. Sunday. That game can be watched on KWCH 12.
- Click here to see photos of WSU v Illinois State match up
It's the second time since 1991 the Shockers are in the finals - the other appearance coming three years ago - but it wasn't earned without some laboring.
"We couldn't score against that zone," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. "… Kudos to them for the switch, because it was kind of getting ridiculous early on."
Muller said he never lost faith in the Redbirds, even when they were down 17-1.
"I thought if we could get going, see the ball go in the basket a couple of times, we could go on a run," Muller said. "And we did."
ISU out-scored the Shockers 23-6 for the rest of the first half, until WSU freshman Fred Van Vleet made a three-pointer just six seconds before halftime. That gave WSU a 26-24 lead.
Redbird guard Tyler Brown made a three-pointer to start the second half, giving ISU a 27-26 lead.
But Carl Hall answered with a jumper - he led WSU with 16 points - and the Shockers spent the rest of the game building a lead. They dominated on the boards, out-rebounding ISU 48-31, and held the Redbirds to 29.1 percent shooting.
WSU guard Malcolm Armstead had 15 points and nine rebounds. His three steals all came in the first four minutes.
"I knew I had to set the tone defensively to get us going," Armstead said. "I knew if I came out and was aggressive on defense, it would carry over and get transition buckets for us."
The crowd of 18,262 was the second-largest for a Valley Tournament semifinal game.
ISU forward Jackie Carmichael led all scorers with 22 points, but was the only Redbird in double figures. He fouled out with 1:24 remaining.
Shocker guard Tekele Cotton struggled offensively, making 1 of 6 shots, but earned Marshall's praise for holding ISU's Tyler Brown to nine points on 3 of 12 shooting.
"I'm going to do an addendum to try to get him individually for the (Valley's) All-Defensive Team," Marshall said. "I mean, it's a travesty he's not."
WSU's Cleanthony Early, an all-Valley forward, had eight points and six rebounds in 14 minutes. Marshall said Early was suffering from the stomach flu before the game.
"He got some IV fluids in the morning, and just gutted it out," Marshall said.
That's what's gotten the Shockers this far. Now, they're one victory away from their first Valley Tournament title since 1987.
"We came here to accomplish one of our goals this season," Cotton said, "and that's to win the whole thing."