The Washburn Ichabods men’s basketball team hosted the Pittsburg State Gorillas Saturday afternoon after a heartbreaking loss on Thursday night. Arriving with a 12-9 (7-5 MIAA) record, the Bods hoped to snap a two-game losing streak. Pitt State had some great momentum following two consecutive victories, though Washburn won the earlier match-up 66-59 in Pittsburg, Kan., Dec. 5.
Washburn planned to play a low tempo game from the jump and dominate on the boards against a small Pitt State team. The Bods sought getting the ball inside to big lefty #42, Jonny Clausing, who had a noteworthy size advantage. Driving Pitt into tough shots through bolstering fantastic defense on perimeter was a priority.
During the first half, the Gorillas switched up defenses trying to contain the big man of the Bods and pressing Washburn into a slow start out of the gate. Both teams’ efforts demonstrated that the day’s emphasis was hard-nosed defense. Junior guard Tyler Gieman got the Bods moving with a big three and a lay-up which carried the game to 15-13 Gorillas after the first media timeout.
The Ichabods surged into the lead on a 10-0 run with six minutes left in the half bringing the score to 23-20. A big boost came from sophomore guard, Jalen Lewis, and junior forward, Jayce Williams, forcing turnovers and creating big shots for their teammates. Jayce Williams delivered a big slam to energize the Bods on the defensive end, and Jalen Lewis followed with multiple threes. “It felt good out there today; we just competed, played hard down the stretch. We needed this win to go undefeated in our state, and we knew that coming in,” said Lewis.
The half ended in a tie 35-35. Jalen Lewis led the Bods having amassed 11 points, nine of which he scored with six minutes left. There were multiple lead changes in the first, setting up an entertaining second half.
Jalen Lewis continued his hot shooting, starting the second half with a big three succeeded by a big bucket from Clausing. The Ichabods’ defense determined the tone for the second half with them getting into the passing lanes and having active hands which denied any easy shots. Freshman guard, Conner Deffebaugh, brought the spirit off the bench grabbing multiple rebounds and 10 points.
“I was just trying to do the right things. Coach put me out there for a reason. Just gotta play hard at both ends of the court. Coach tells me to create for others, and that will help my own game,” said Deffebaugh.
Pitt State kept it tight hitting some big-time threes and seizing a 61-58 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. The Gorillas went on their own 10-0 run mid-way through the second positioning them at 66-60 with eight minutes left. Pitt State guard, A.J. Walker, particularly generated some hot shooting and play making.
With under a minute remaining, the Bods and Gorillas were all tied up at 75. This presented a one and one opportunity for Jonny Clausing as he knocked down the first.
“I was very nervous, but confident in my shot,” said Clausing.
The Bods got a steal on the other end to win the game, 76-75. Head Coach Brett Ballard, was highly pleased with his team’s effort and fight.
“I just thought our guys could have given in a couple times there late when things weren’t going our way; we stayed with it and showed some toughness. I was very happy and proud of the stops we had late and found a way to win on the offensive end,” said Ballard.
Jalen Lewis and Tyler Gieman finished at the forefront for the Bods: Lewis with 14 points and Gieman with 13. A.J. Walker from the Gorillas finished with 22 points. The Bods will hit the road next and strive to earn 14-9 for the season against the Northeastern State Riverhawks in Tahlequah, Okla., Thursday Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Edited by Hannah Alleyne, Adam White, Jada Johnson