Wichita, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Ron Baker had 17 points, Fred VanVleet scored 13 and No. 11 Wichita State beat No. 10 Northern Iowa 74-60 on Saturday in a winner-take-all game for the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title.
Days from the start of the conference tournament and weeks from March Madness, the game had a postseason feel.
"What a great atmosphere," said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. "It was a great afternoon to be a part of Shocker nation."
The Shockers (27-3, 17-1 MVC) avenged their only conference loss to Northern Iowa four weeks ago and captured back-to-back Missouri Valley regular season titles for the first time in 50 years.
They will again be the No. 1 seed when the conference tournament starts on Thursday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Seth Tuttle had 16 points and Northern Iowa (27-3, 16-2) made a push after being down 18 in the second half, cutting the deficit to four on several occasions. But the Panthers had their school-record 16-game winning streak snapped, losing for the first time since falling to Evansville on Jan. 1 to open conference play.
Wichita State captured its ninth MVC title since joining the league in 1946, but it was the first time the Shockers won back-to-back crowns since 1964-65.
They got 11 points each from Darius Carter, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel and extended their home winning streak to 32 games.
The Shockers have won eight in a row since losing to Iowa State 70-54 in Cedar Falls Jan. 31 -- the first game between two ranked Missouri Valley Conference teams in 33 years.
Baker and VanVleet each finished with seven assists and zero turnovers and the Shockers turned the ball over just three times as a team.
VanVleet came out of the game with 36 seconds remaining after he slipped and hit the back of his head on the floor coming down from a missed shot in the lane.
The Shockers led 38-26 at halftime and were up 18 with under 14 minutes left before Northern Iowa went on a 16-2 run to trim the deficit to four with 9:15 to go.
Paul Jesperson scored eight during the flurry, hitting a pair of 3-ponters, and Wes Washpun and Matt Bohannon also knocked down 3s.
The game remained tight until an 8-1 Wichita State burst sparked by 3s from Wessel and VanVleet extended the Shockers' lead to 12 with four minutes left.
The Panthers were never within single digits after and Cotton punctuated the Wichita State win with a windmill dunk down the stretch.
It was the first time the MVC had two games between ranked teams in the same season since Louisville and Memphis played twice in 1972 ... The Panthers were seeking their third regular season MVC title after sharing the crown with Creighton in 2008-09 and winning it outright in 2009-10 ... Wichita State trimmed Northern Iowa's lead in the all-time series to 26-25.