Ichabods fall on road to MIAA front-runner Missouri Southern

Matt Lazzo

The 2010-2011 basketball campaign has been a tumultuous one for the Ichabods.

After understandably falling to noteworthy Division I opponents in the exhibition season, the Ichabods went on to win five of their next six games. Washburn removed any memory of last year’s season-ending loss to the University of Nebraska-Omaha by dismantling the Mavericks 79-73 in their first conference game. However, Washburn University’s “success week” was followed by a three-game slide. The Ichabods dropped their first home game to No. 5-ranked Fort Hays State. Washburn then lost a close game to Truman State, and fell next to Missouri Western in an offensive barn-burner 103-82.

Holding true to the season’s up-and-down character, the Ichabods won two-straight home games against Central Missouri and Southwest Baptist, setting the table for a road matchup against MIAA-leading Missouri Southern State University.

“Our team thinks about one game at a time, but we wanted to build on our two straight wins going against a very good Missouri Southern team,” said Bobby Chipman, sophomore forward.

Against Missouri Southern, Washburn jumped out to an early 27-17 lead in the first half behind De’Andre Washington’s team high 22 points. The Lions stormed back with a 15-1 run of their own to pull ahead at the seven minute mark of the first half. Despite their torrid first half shooting of 64 percent, the Lions of Missouri Southern took a 40-46 advantage at the intermission.

The six-point deficit seemed larger to the Ichabods because of how well they had played offensively in the first half.

“It starts with defense,” said Chipman. “We were doing everything we wanted on offense but couldn’t get consistent stops on defense to pull away.”

The Ichabods trimmed the Lions to six with 16 minutes remaining after a long-range three pointer from redshirt freshman guard Jeff Reid. The Lions then pulled ahead by as much as 20 points two different times in the second half before ending the night with a 90-73 win over the visiting Ichabods. Washburn cooled down from its first half scoring barrage to finish with 52 percent shooting from the field on 27-of-52 shooting. Senior forward Logan Stutz added another 20 point performance, keeping his season average at nearly 21 points a game. Reid is also having a stellar inaugural year, averaging 10 points for the Ichabods.

The loss moves the Ichabods to 7-5 overall with a 4-4 conference record.

“We are missing our defensive leader in Will McNeil,” said Chipman. McNeil was a member of the 2009-2010 MIAA all-defensive team. “The defensive intensity that we have had at home has been different than on the road. That needs to change if we are going to move up in the conference rankings.”

The Ichabods look to get back on track in Lee Arena with a pivotal contest against Pittsburgh State Wednesday night. As the Ichabods enter the midway point of the season, they are unhappy with their record but confident things will turnaround. This Ichabod team has the talent and wherewithal from last year’s tournament experience to raise this season in line with their high expectations.

“We have seen our potential and we are confident that with a more consistent effort we can get back on track,” said senior Nate Daniels. “If we can do that and finish possessions on offense, we will have a chance during the postseason.