Washburn’s forwards made a statement to Abercrombie on Saturday, and it didn’t have anything to do with their fashion sense.
Instead, it was something to the effect of “Four players are better than one.” The Ichabods beat Pittsburg State 67-56, despite a 27-point game from PSU star Cory Abercrombie, in an impressive effort from the Washburn frontcourt.
All four of Washburn’s key forwards scored in double figures and effectively turned the Gorillas into a one-man show.
“We knew this game would be hard,” said senior forward Kyle Snyder. “They’re a physical group, and Abercrombie is the toughest big man in the league.”
The solution to Abercrombie’s dominance was to get the ball down low and let every forward taller than 6’5” take their shot at scoring against the Gorillas’ best player. Snyder and forward Darnell Kimble scored 14 points, while fellow big men Brady Sisk and Paul Byers added 18 and 11, respectively.
The win avenges the Bods’ loss at Pittsburg two weeks ago and brings Washburn (13-8, 5-7) into a tie with PSU (14-7, 5-7) in the league race.
“Pittsburg’s good on the perimeter, too,” said head coach Bob Chipman. “They’re not going to give up threes, so you have to take the inside stuff and I thought we did that well.”
Pounding the ball inside worked from the very beginning, and Washburn steadily built their lead up to 13 by halftime. Although the Bods got solid contributions from all four post players, they still had their hands full with Abercrombie.
“It’s not easy because you’ve got to play tough defense on him,” said Chipman. “He’s not easy to guard. He’s one of the premier post players in Division II.”
Washburn is not the only team that has struggled with the all-conference forward, and his dominance has not just been limited to Division II play. He nearly matched his point total against the Bods in an early season game against Kansas State.
“Anybody who can score 25 against K-State, and that monster front line has to be pretty good,” said Chipman.
The 13 rebounds Abercrombie snagged gave him a Michael Beasley-like stat line, but Kyle Snyder still managed to one-up him in the board department. Snyder’s 14 rebounds and 14 points gave him the fourth double-double in his Washburn career.
“It was nice to get back in the starting lineup and show what I could do against these big guys,” said Snyder. “We knew they would rebound and go to the boards every time, so we had to box out, and I think we did a great job with that.”
It always means a little bit more when Snyder has a big game, because fans enjoy seeing the often-injured forward put together a successful senior season, Bob Chipman included.
“Kyle was unbelievable,” said Chipman. “His energy was phenomenal. He’s bringing the energy of old. He would have had even more if he didn’t miss that dunk, but that’s just about the only thing he did wrong.”
Snyder did find one additional thing he’d like to fix after the 11-point win.
“I was 0-2 on 3-pointers,” Snyder said.
It’s easy for Snyder, who is not a 3-point shooter by any means, to joke around after cruising to yet another home conference win. But the conference race is getting serious as the Ichabods pulled into a tie for seventh in the MIAA, two games ahead of Missouri Western and Truman State who are on the outside looking in on the conference tournament.
The win brings the Bods closer to a .500 MIAA record and the jumbled pack in the middle of the standings. Chipman knows that beating an evenly matched team in February can do wonders for a team heading into March.
“We know Pitt is a good team that’s been in the top 20 and in the regional rankings,” said Chipman. “This was a big confidence builder for us. We pretty much controlled them the entire game.”