Men’s basketball falls to top ranked Bearcats

Drawing contact: Senior guard Javion Blake drives to the basket in an attempt to score. Blake is in the top 5 of all-time scorers in Washburn history.

The Washburn men’s basketball team welcomed the top ranked Northwest Missouri State Bearcats to Lee Arena to kick off their final homestand of the regular season.

The Ichabods hung tough in the first half, but elite shooting from the outside eventually spelled doom for Washburn as they fell to the undefeated Bearcats.

Senior guard Tyas Martin drew first blood, but the 2-0 lead was short lived. The Bearcats scored the next seven points and controlled the early lead.

Both teams struggled to find offense until Northwest strung together another seven points and led 14-4.

Senior guard Javion Blake broke the Ichabod drought with a hard drive to the basket finished with a lay in.

Washburn struggled to defend in the man to man defense, so they turned to a zone in an effort to contain the Bearcat offense.

The effort seemed to make a difference because Washburn was able to get back to back stops and three-pointers on the offensive end of each possession.

The Ichabods had drawn back within 4 making the score 24-20, but Northwest immediately found their stroke from behind the three-point line and stretched the lead back out to 32-20 on an 8-0 run.

Freshman guard Jalen Lewis put an end to the run with a corner three and got the lead back to single digits.

Out of the last media timeout of the half, sophomore guard Tyler Geiman struck from deep three-point range as the shot clock was winding down to make the score 32-26.

A late three from the Bearcats stretched the lead back to nine at 35-26 which would stand as the halftime score.

No Ichabod scored in double figures in the first half but were led offensively by senior forward David Salach’s seven.

 Northwest came out of the locker room with rhythm on offense moving the ball effectively and raced out on a 7-2 run.

Offensively, Washburn was focused on getting the ball down to the post and letting Salach got to work in one-on-one matchups. They did so with only average success and continued to trail 42-30.

Both teams continued trading baskets and the lead remained right around ten for the Bearcats before stretching it to 13, when they led 50-37.

Up double digits, the Bearcats began to slow the game down by playing methodically on defense and taking their time to find open shots.

The only problem was that the Bearcats couldn’t seem to miss a shot even when they slowed the pace. An entourage of three-pointers quickly stretched the lead out to 21.

“Overall our defense wasn’t terrible,” said Head Coach Brett Ballard. “Pretty good in spurts, but the problem when you play an elite team is those little chinks in the armor catch up to you.”

Part of that defensive effort was the play of Lewis. He plays defense like his hair is on fire and he gets that from his supporters.

“My teammates, coaches and all my guys that are there, they just give me the confidence to go out there and play as hard as I can and just do what I can do to help the team get a win,” said Lewis.

The Ichabods began to start pressing the Bearcats in the backcourt in hopes of creating turnovers to get back in the game. Although they did force a handful of takeaways, Northwest was able to break the press and find open shots quickly as well and converted at a high rate.

Washburn made a late run to make the score look more respectable, but it was the top ranked Bearcats that reigned supreme on this night and they took the game 72-49.

Lewis led the team in scoring with 13, and most of his damage coming from behind the arc with 3 three-pointers.

The loss drops Washburn to 21-6 overall and 14-4 in the MIAA ahead of their final regular season game which will be Saturday afternoon and also serve as senior day.