The Lady Blues faced their toughest exhibition Friday night in Lee Arena, but the opponent wasn’t a Division I basketball power. They weren’t a division II opponent from outside the MIAA. No, the Washburn Lady Blues looked on campus for their final exhibition foe, and what they found were gophers, er golfers.
That’s right, their opponent was the Washburn men’s golf team, and the golfers proved they could be ballers as well as duffers, overtaking the Lady Blues 74-58.
Junior Nate Sargent was the first to put one in, after one minute of play. The men went on a 7-0 run before the Blue’s Emily Gibson showcased her own short game, hitting a jumper from inside the paint. The Bods answered back, going on a 17-0 run of their own to take a big lead going into halftime 35-16.
Coming out of halftime, or going into the back nine, the Blues showed the golfers how to swing, outshooting them 42-39 in the second half. But the golfers’ first half lead proved to be too much to overcome in the second half.
Tasteless golf and Caddyshack references aside, the Lady Blues have played the golf team each year for the past several years as an exhibition opponent, because other paid opponents didn’t give the team the bang for its buck they were looking for.
“One year we were paying teams to come in and play us and they weren’t very good,” said head coach Ron McHenry. “And these guys will come and play us and we don’t have to pay them, we just buy them a T-shirt and they enjoy coming out and playing us.”
Though the Blues have played larger programs, the golf team has proven that they’re not a bunch of hacks and they have provided McHenry’s team a chance to tune up before entering regular season play, allowing younger players to play minutes that wouldn’t come in other exhibition match ups.
“Playing the golfers gives us another chance to play a really good team,” said McHenry. “And they are probably one of the better teams that we’ll play in exhibition. They do some different things to you that you really can’t prepare for and you have to look at that as a positive, but it really gave us an opportunity to look at some kids who haven’t got that much playing time, or haven’t been in the system that long.”
For the golf team, playing the Blues isn’t about bragging rights. For them it is more about helping the team prepare for future opponents.
“We didn’t really prepare for the game,” said Sam Wempe, senior. “The game for us is really more about preparing the girls than anything else.”
Senior Renata Germano agrees with McHenry and looks at the game as a way to find possible fatal flaws in the Blues’ game.
“They’re tough guys,” said Germano. “We’re going to play teams like that and that’s going to help us in upcoming games and will also help us to see what we need to work on.”
Janice Bright, senior guard led the Blues with 20, while Wempe and Matt Ewald led the golfers with 17 points apiece.
The Lady Blues start regular season action at 7 p.m. Wednesday night in Lee Arena, hosting the Tritons of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.