Women’s basketball advances to second round after pulling away from Pitt State


Kyle Manthe

Washburn women’s basketball celebrates on the court after the game Mar. 2, 2022. The Ichabods defeated Pitt State 59-53.

After a 13-15 regular season, Washburn women’s basketball entered the MIAA tournament as the ninth seed with a first-round matchup against No. 8 Pittsburg State Mar. 2.

A strong defensive effort and key shots from seniors propelled the Ichabods to a 59-53 win over the Gorillas.

“It was a big win for us because it would have been hard to put that much effort in the defensive end of the floor and have it not work out for you, but we hit enough shots down the stretch,” said head coach Ron McHenry. “We will take this and try to enjoy it. It’s too hard to kick these out too fast.”

After a 1-7 start to the season, Washburn will play for a chance to get into the tournament semifinals.

“Getting off to 1-7 I laugh at myself … you can just destroy yourself at that point,” McHenry said. “We had to right ourselves against a really good conference … I figured with the group of seniors we had that we would find our way back.”

In the first quarter, Washburn was dictating pace, slowing the game down and forcing Pitt State into tough looks late in the shot clock.

On the offensive end the Ichabods were both balanced and efficient, shooting 7-14 in the quarter with six players getting on the scoreboard. The effort led to a 16-15 advantage after 10 minutes of play.

Senior guard Hunter Bentley took control of the offense in the second quarter, scoring seven points in the first four minutes. Three came on her second 3-pointer of the game, putting Washburn up by six.

The lead grew to as many as 10 before the Ichabods offense went cold, allowing the Gorillas to go on a 7-0 run. The lead was three at halftime, with Washburn in front 29-26.

Baskets were hard to come by in the third quarter as each side traded scores. The Gorillas got to the free throw line, knocking down four in the quarter. Most of the Ichabods offense continued to come from Bentley, who finished the half with 19 points.

“Just being confident [was important] and pulling the trigger when it’s open. If we aren’t taking our open shot then we might not get one at all,” Bentley said. “Coach Mac had confidence in me and my teammates have confidence in me.”

Two free throws by sophomore guard Macy Doebele in the final second of the quarter made it a 42-37 game heading into the fourth quarter.

After a slow start to the fourth, the lead grew to seven points with just under seven to play after a driving finish from senior guard Nuria Barrientos.

Both sides were shooting under 35% as the game moved into the final five minutes with Washburn possessing a 46-42 lead.

Senior Shae Sanchez scored seven straight points, the last three coming on a 3-pointer to put the Ichabods up by seven with 3:03 to play. Another basket by Sanchez with under two minutes to play, followed by a defensive stop and Washburn began to run clock.

“Just the confidence my team gives me [was important],” Sanchez said. “Really great defense leads to great offense.”

A 3-pointer for Pitt State along with missed free throws from the Ichabods left the door open with the Gorillas in possession of the ball and down by just four with 31.2 seconds left.

Washburn played strong defense forcing a turnover, and after being fouled, Barrientos knocked down two free throws and put the lead back at six.

That would be enough for the Ichabods to hold on, pulling off the upset and winning 59-53.

“We will enjoy it for a second here, catch our breath and then get back after it,” McHenry said.
In round two, it will be No. 1 Missouri Southern waiting for Washburn, who will play for a second straight day.

“They are running on about 15 straight wins,” McHenry said. “They got some players, so we will have our hands full.”

Bentley led Washburn with 20 points, Sanchez added 13, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Barrientos had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

After the win, the Ichabods are 14-15 on the year heading into the second-round matchup.

Edited by: Ellie Walker, Glorianna Noland