The Washburn men’s basketball took down the Southwest Baptist Bearcats, 77-58, in the quarterfinal of the MIAA tournament.
Washburn controlled the early lead, 11-10, on the strength of two early buckets from sophomore Will McKee as well as a three-pointer thrown in from sophomore Tyler Geiman.
The Ichabods stretched the lead to double figures halfway through the first half, leading by as many as twelve. Freshman Jalen Lewis got hot from three-point range, knocking down two in a row, bringing the score to 22-10 and capping an 11-0 run.
Southwest Baptist responded with a run of their own scoring 16 of the final 20 points in the half to tie the score at 26 apiece, taking advantage of some Washburn offensive struggles.
“And then our offensive kind of just sputtered,” said head coach Brett Ballard. “We had some careless turnovers, we missed some pretty wide open shots, we missed some at the rim and then our defense got a little lackluster, so I wasn’t really happy at halftime.”
Ballard’s team came back ready to fight after half-time. An early three from McKee helped spur a 10-2 run to start the half and get Washburn out to a 36-28 lead.
The defense started to lock in and Washburn pushed the lead to double digits and didn’t look back. The half-court offense wasn’t completely successful for the Ichabods, so they turned elsewhere to get rolling.
“I would say one of the keys to our offense is when we get out and run,” said Geiman. “And that starts with getting stops, so I say once we start getting stops and get running with Tyas [Martin] and Javion [Blake], it really gets them going.”
Lewis hit another pair of three’s in the second half to pace the offense and give Washburn a 59-41 lead with nine minutes remaining. The lead got to as many as 22 with a minute remaining in the game, but a late three by the Bearcats kept the score within 20. Washburn dribbled out the time and advanced to the semifinals.
McKee and Lewis led the Washburn scorers with 14 each while Geiman chipped in another 10.
Washburn will play the semifinal game at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday against the winner of Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State. The win over the Bearcats improves the Ichabods’ record to 23-6 overall.