Gorillas give Ichabods their third straight loss Saturday

Matt Resnick

The Washburn men’s basketball team dropped it’s third consecutive conference game Saturday at Lee Arena, falling to the Pittsburg State Gorillas 84-79. The Ichabods are now 6-11 overall and 2-6 in the MIAA.

Ichabod head coach Bob Chipman, now in his 28th season at Washburn, is entering unfamiliar territory as his team is on track for its second straight losing season after 26 consecutive winning seasons. Contributing to Washburn’s recent woes is the lack of offensive production from their perimeter players, coupled with the team’s inability to find a go-to scorer. The Ichabods rank last in the MIAA in scoring averaging 65 points per game.

“We have to get more aggressive, guys have been playing tentative and lacking confidence,” said Chipman. “They had guys come off the bench that hadn’t played all year who lit up the joint, they scored more points than they had all year, give them credit they earned the win.”

Andrew Meile, Washburn junior guard, hit two 3-pointers early on but the Ichabods trailed 22-18 midway through the first half. Late in the half, Pittsburg State guard Keith Windom put the Gorillas up 25-22 after hitting a 3-pointer. Washburn trailed at halftime 36-30, connecting on only 10 of 27 shots from the field, while allowing the Gorillas to shoot 48.

Midway through the second half, the Gorillas extended their lead to 56-47, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Meile and Paul Byers, sophomore forward, sliced the lead to three. With under six minutes to play, Frank Phifer, Washburn senior forward, converted a 3-point play to close the Gorillas lead to 65-63. With four minutes remaining Phifer converted another 3-point play, but Washburn still found themselves down 72-69. The Ichabods were able to close the gap to 80-77 with under a minute to play after Grant Hargett, junior guard, hit a 3-pointer. Pittsburg State however put the game out of reach by hitting clutch free throws, 84-79.

“To improve as a team we need to move better, we’ve been standing around to much,” said Phifer. “We just haven’t been running plays during the game the way we have in practice. One thing about the season is we have many more games left, so we just need to learn from the mistakes we made tonight and just keep working at it, and good things will happen for us.”

Up next for Washburn is a trip to face Missouri Southern at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Joplin, Mo. Washburn will stay on the road for the following game facing Missouri Western, 7:30 p.m. Saturday in St. Joseph, Mo. The Ichabods will then return home for a game against Missouri Southern at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 1. Currently Emporia State and Central Missouri are both 14-0 overall, and 5-0 in the MIAA.