VIDEO: No. 12 Lady Blues tame Lady Lions, prepare for Turnpike Tussle

With spring in the offing, another season is drawing closer to an end.

For the Washburn Lady Blues basketball team, another season is nearing its end with a steady drumbeat.

Having won 12 of its last 13 games, the Lady Blues came into the week working to complete season sweeps of two teams on opposite ends of the competitive spectrums.

Wednesday’s game featured a trip to Joplin, Mo., to match up against the Missouri Southern State University Lady Lions. Washburn had played the Lady Lions, decimating the MIAA’s 10th place team 76-53.

The Lady Blues started the game cold, allowing MSSU to run out to an early lead. Exhibiting three point deadliness, the Lady Lions shot ahead leading by as much as 12 points early in the half.

Washburn responded with a 7-0 run to close the gap. With the starting unit struggling, freshmen guard Casyn Buchman and forward Brittney Lynch gave the team a shot of adrenaline, scoring five of the seven points.

The more unpleasant surprise for the Lady Lions was the play of junior forward Dana Elliot. Elliot came in and exploded immediately. Playing just nine minutes in the first period, the Wamego, Kan., product scored 12 of her career high 15 points to lead her team at the half, 23-16.

“I’m not really a scorer,” said Elliot. “I’m there to get down underneath and grind out plays.”

Despite Elliot stepping out and giving WU a boost, the team would turn to its one-two punch of senior guards Ebonie Williams and Stevi Schultz. In particular, Schultz had been in a bit of a slump as of late shooting the ball. This game gave her the chance to get her legs back under her as she shot 6-13 from the floor, including 4-8 from beyond the arc, finishing the game with 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Williams also got going as well, pacing the team with 20 points, including a 3-7 shooting night from downtown.

As Washburn turned up the heat, the Lady Lions wilted and fell further behind before the Lady Blues finally finished them off 75-69.

“It was a tough game,” said Washburn Head Coach Ron Mchenry. “We were just happy to get out of there with a win.”

The final hurdle overcome, the table was finally set for a made for television special the following Saturday. The MIAA game-of-the-week featured a conference leading Pittsburg State University team that Washburn had put the hurt on Jan. 11 on the road, 65-51.

 The Lady Blues attacked early and often in the game opening up a 16-0 lead to start the game. Once again the duo of Williams and Schultz unleashed a barrage of long-range artistry, combining to score 15 of the first 16 points of the game.

The Lady Gorillas weren’t going away that easily however. With tough-minded defense and Washburn cooling off from outside, the visitors managed to claw its way back into the contest, finishing the half on a 4-0 run to bring the lead down to just 11 points at the break.

“We had a great start,” said Mchenry. “We stumbled a little but found a way to keep it going.”

In the second half the Lady Blues turned their game outside in by getting senior center Cassie Lombardino involved in the mix. Having scored only three points in the first half, the Bonner Springs, Kan. product went to work in the final frame, finishing the game with 13 points and 8 rebounds.

While both teams played tenaciously, the second half didn’t change much from the first for Washburn. PSU however was able to close the distance to four points at several points midway through the half.

Combining a disciplined second half plan in which the team shot just five three point shots, the Lady Blues made their way to the free throw line at key points in the game, hitting 9-12 in the final frame while finishing the game 14-20 from the charity stripe. When the game was over, Washburn had pulled away late putting an exclamation on a series sweep 59-45.

Looking forward now, the Lady Blues are traveling down the highway to take on “Turnpike Tussle” opponent Emporia State University. The Lady Hornets have won four of the last five games, with the sole loss coming to Pittsburg State University. Washburn last played ESU on Jan. 14 at home when the Lady Blues took down the Lady Hornets 73-66.

With possession of third place in the conference on the line for ESU, the team will be looking to avoid the sweep and put itself in position for a strong seed in the MIAA conference tournament.

Tipoff is set for tonight at 5:30 p.m. at White Auditorium in Emporia, Kan.