Men’s basketball bucks No. 9 Bronchos in 96-86 win


Kohichiro Yamada

Washburn guard Jalen Lewis (20) takes a free throw Jan. 29, 2022, Lee arena, Topeka, Kansas. Lewis scored 23 points in the game.

After a midweek win over Newman, Washburn men’s basketball had won six of its last seven games heading into a Jan. 29 matchup with No. 9 University Central Oklahoma. The game closes out a four-game homestand for the 12-7 Ichabods before heading on the road for three games.

Washburn came out firing inside and out to the tune of 11-19 shooting in the first ten minutes including four triples. Sophomore guard Connor Deffebaugh led the Ichabods on both ends with a steal and seven points. His steal and score gave Washburn a 26-16 lead at the 10:20 point of the half.

Anytime the Bronchos made a run to cut the deficit to five or six points Washburn would respond with a three-pointer, first from senior forward Jeremy Harrell then junior guard Jalen Lewis as the half moved to its final five minutes.

Lewis continued to roll, knocking down two jumpers in the final five to steady the Ichabods offense. A three-point-play from junior forward Jonny Clausing with 1:06 to play moved the lead back to double digits and, a three-pointer by Harrell gave Washburn a 48-33 halftime lead.

“I thought we were great in the first half especially, our defensive effort was really good. That is a hard team to guard,” said head coach Brett Ballard. “That was as good defensively as we have been all year, and then offensively the thing that’s good for us now is we can just come at you with so many guys.”

The quick pace of play continued to start the second half, though the Ichabods shooting percentages sunk down below 35% over the first ten minutes. In that time freshman guard Michael Keegan helped keep the offense afloat with eight points and two three-pointers.

Central Oklahoma was strong on offense, shooting over 60% through the first ten minutes but was never able to cut the lead under eight points in that time.

After heading into the locker room briefly, senior guard Tyler Geiman returned to hit two layups under the ten-minute mark, making it a 79-64 game with 6:35 to play.

Each team continued to go to the free throw line and converted at high clips while also slowing the game down, leaving Washburn still out in front 85-72 at the 4:42 mark.

Inside of three minutes, the Bronchos got back-to-back baskets from senior Isaiah Wade, who finished with a game-high 28 to make it an 89-82 game.

“Those guys are really good offensively, so we knew they were going to go on some runs. We just had to weather the storm and then go on runs of our own,” Lewis said.

The Ichabods ran the clock out the next few possessions, turning the game into a free-throw competition. A breakaway layup by Lewis with 35 seconds left made it a 96-86 game which would be the final score.

“I thought we played really tough the whole game. Both ends of the floor were really disciplined and executed offensively and then defensively … just locking in on the scouting report and all that we did that well today,” Lewis said.

Lewis led the team with 23 points while adding five rebounds as well. Keegan finished with 14 points and Clausing added 13. Harrell scored 11 and pulled down a team best seven rebounds while Geiman dished out eight assists in addition to 10 points.

“We got some confidence right now, which is great to see, and we are playing as well as we have played all year so we are going in the right direction,” Ballard said. “All of our goals are still ahead of us, everything we wanted to accomplish is still there.”

The win moved the Ichabods to 13-7 on the year and 10-4 in conference play heading into a road contest against Rogers State Feb. 3.
Edited by Ellie Walker, Katrina Johnson