Defense dooms men’s basketball in loss to RiverHawks


Jesse Bruner

Washburn guard Tyler Geiman (12) keeps the ball from Northeastern State guard Dillon Bailey (2) and guard Tylor Arnold (20) Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, at Lee Arena in Topeka, Kan. Geiman recorded one steal in the game.

After winning two days prior Washburn men’s basketball had built its first winning streak of the season and looked to build on it with a Monday matchup against Northeastern State Dec. 20. The Ichabods entered the game at 6-5 on the year against a RiverHawks team that was only 1-3 in MIAA play.

It was Washburn’s bench who got them started early with three early three-pointers by freshman guard Levi Braun. Another reserve guard, freshman Jaden Monday knocked down one three and converted an and-one to put the Ichabods up 18-11.

Senior forward Jeremy Harrell knocked down two more triples to make the lead as big as 11 points.

Once the outside shooting cooled off Northeastern State was able to make a comeback by attacking the basket and playing inside out. The RiverHawks went on a 12-0 scoring run over nearly six minutes of action to take a 28-26 lead at the 5:37 mark.

Senior guard Tyler Geiman was able to put an end to the drought with an and-one basket. Washburn went to a zone late in the half and gave up a few mid range jump shots but were able to keep a 37-32 lead into the break after a step back three by Monday and more free throws from Geiman.

The physicality of the game picked up in the second half as each side traded trips to the free throw line the first five minutes, making it a 43-38 game at the 15-minute mark.
Northeastern State continued to attack, getting to the free throw line six more times in the next three minutes to pull ahead 47-45. The Ichabods were able to retake the lead after consecutive drives to the basket by Geiman.

The game went back and forth through the middle minutes of the half, with the RiverHawks scoring 11 straight points at the line and Washburn getting back-to-back threes by Geiman and Keegan.

“Every fifty-fifty ball they got and we just could not get a stop on the defensive end, we could not guard them without fouling,” said head coach Brett Ballard.

With foul trouble on three perimeter starters the Ichabods defense took a step back as Northeastern State hit a three to build a seven-point lead at the 6:33 mark. Both sides continued to go to the line, but Washburn was unable to cut the deficit below five into the final four minutes of the game.

“Our offense was stagnant at times, we stood around and watched one guy dribble the ball and you know I just thought we had some selfish tendencies,” Ballard said.

After a jumper from Harrell cut the lead to four RiverHawks guard Christian Cook responded with his fifth three-pointer of the game, pushing the lead out to seven points with 2:15 left.
The Ichabods scored seven points over the next three possessions, capped off by a drive from Geiman, cutting the lead to three points with 37.5 to play.

The next play Monday was able to jump in front of a pass, knocking it off of Northeastern State, forcing a turnover but the ensuing offensive possession came up empty, allowing the RiverHawks to pick up another point at the line.

Washburn got the point back on a free throw from junior guard Isaiah Thorne but Northeastern State sank two more free throws to make the lead five points with 12 seconds left. The Ichabods could not overcome the deficit, as they concluded the 2021 calendar year with an 85-82 loss.

“I just haven’t been able to reach this team yet, this is as poor of a coaching job as I have done,” Ballard said. “Our consistency is not there, our discipline is not there, our execution is not there, our toughness is not there.”

Geiman led the way with 22 points and 10 assists, good for a double-double, while Braun and Harrell added 17 and 13 respectively.

The loss moved Washburn to 6-6 on the year and 3-3 in MIAA play. The team will have a nearly two-week break before traveling to face the University of Central Missouri January 1, 2022.

Edited by Ellie Walker and Alyssa Storm