Hornets sting Lady Blues


Jake Wingo

Even with Spring Break starting on Friday the Lady Blues still had quite a fan base on hand for the opening round of the NCAA Regional Tournament.

With Emporia State visiting Lee Arena for the second time this year the Blues were looking for revenge after suffering two consecutive losses to the Lady Hornets at Emporia and in the second round of the MIAA Tournament.

Early in the game neither team could seem to find an edge as scoring came at a premium. With under 7 minutes left in the game Tiara George tied the game at 15. Physical play from both teams led to early foul trouble for Emporia and two starters were forced to sit with 3 fouls with over 6 minutes to play.

With under 4 to play Brittney Lynch gave the Blues the lead at with a gritty layup and a hard foul but couldn’t convert the and 1. As if to make up for the miss she immediately knocked down a 17 footer to put them up 23-19.

A first half that included 18 combined fouls was very indicative of how both teams came out of the gates. Strong defense on both ends had the Lady Hornets up 28-25 at the half. The difference in the first half came at the charity stripe as the Blues only shot 45% to Emporia’s 86%. Laura Kindernecht had an unusually quiet first half, going 0-4 with only one assist. Emporia’s Laura Patrick was the lead all players in scoring with 10.

Great play from the Lady Hornets’ post players and more poor free throw shooting from the Blues led to an early 6-3 run for Emporia. The quick start had Washburn down 34-28 with very little momentum in their favor.

After one made free throw from Dana Elliot and a 3 pointer from Casyn Buchman things were starting to look up for the Blues. Emporia quickly answered with a 3 of their own. A turnover by Kindernecht followed by a transition layup had the Lady Hornets up 7 with under 13 to go in the game.

Very strong defense from Emporia forced the Blues into tough and contested shots in five straight possessions. Offensively they were able to get clean looks at the basket on every following possession, building their lead to 48-38 with just under 8 minutes to play.

The physicality of the Lady Hornets was on full display as a thrown elbow from Merissa Quick sent LaVonda McCall to the floor following a rebound. Quick was a force at center all game long drawing fouls, making her free throws, and hitting turnaround jumpers in the post. “When they see Merissa go one on one and make a big play in the post it give the whole team a big boost,” head coach Jory Collins. She ended the game with 17 points and 9 rebounds.

Washburn countered by getting back to their bread and butter. The hard foul from Quick seemed to fire up McCall and George as they began to battle down low. Two layups from each of them had the Blues within striking distance making it a 4 point game at the 3:40 mark, 52-48.

The Lady Hornets responded again however with a 6-2 run of their own. A converted and 1 and a made 3 from Patrick gave them an 8 point lead with under 2 remaining.

A late run by the Blues brought the game within 5 after being down by as many as 10 but more made free throws sealed the game for Emporia State 65-58. Patrick led the Lady Hornets with 20 points and added 3 rebounds. Tiara George led all scorers with 22 and added a team-high 7 rebounds. In her last game as a Lady Blue leading scorer and Central Region Player of the Year Laura Kindernecht was only able to muster 4 points on 1-9 shooting. “They’re pretty physical and we’ve played them so many times this year that they just know what we’re trying to do,” she said.

When asked about his seniors that played their last game tonight Washburn head coach Ron McHenry spoke very highly of his players: “They’re champs. They really are. We just ran into a buzzsaw. This group has a lot to be proud of. This team went through a tough league with only two losses.”