Men’s basketball onto MIAA semifinals with win over Emporia State


Kyle Manthe

Sophomore guard Tyler Nelson (14) and senior guard Tyler Geiman (12) celebrate after scoring Mar. 4, 2022. Washburn defeated Emporia State 88-81 in the game.

Washburn men’s basketball and Emporia State faced off in the turnpike tussle for the third time this season and the second time in the last week Friday night. This time the game would take place in the MIAA tournament quarterfinals.

Just like the first two games it was the team from Topeka that came out on top, with the Ichabods winning 88-81.

“This is a big game for us for a number of reasons, one you are trying to extend your season,” Ballard said. “You are playing a rival and they are right down the road from us, so it means a lot for our players and our program and to our fans too.”

The win moved Washburn to 20-9 on the year, a second straight season the team will hit the 20-win mark.

“If you get to 20 wins in a college basketball season that is something that you should be proud of,” Ballard said. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to get here, we just kind of scratched and clawed our way back into this situation and I am really proud of our team to get 20.”

The game began with a personal 5-0 run for MIAA freshman of the year Michael Keegan to put the Ichabods in front.

The Hornets would quickly come back to tie the game at eight and take a brief lead.

Throughout the first half neither team would lead by more than five points. In the middle portion it was senior guard Tyler Geiman and junior forward Jonny Clausing who each had six points at the six-minute mark with the score tied at 23.

For Emporia State it was the usual suspects, seniors Tray Buchanan and Jumah’ri Turner who combined for 20 first half points.

Keegan broke loose for two transition layups in the final five minutes to give him 12 in the first half. A free throw from Clausing in the final five seconds tied the game at 35 heading into the break.

Out of halftime Buchanan heated up quickly, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes including three 3-pointers. Washburn was able to withstand the run with 12 combined points from Geiman and sophomore guard Connor Deffebaugh over the same first five minutes.

“I am proud of my guys, they accepted the challenge. We didn’t flinch when they were making some tough shots, we just kept competing and kept playing,” Ballard said.

A 10-0 run for the Ichabods just under the 14-minute mark made it a 56-50 game and tied the largest lead for either side to that point. Junior guard Jalen Lewis began the stretch by scoring the first five points.

“We feel like we have different guys that can come at you in different ways, we got a lot of weapons,” Ballard said. “Hopefully one of the things that makes us hard to guard is the different guys that can step up.”

Lewis continued to score, and the lead continued to grow, reaching 11 points with 7:41 left after another 3-pointer.

“TY (Geiman) found me in my spot and really got me going,” Lewis said. “Just trusting the work that I put in and shooting shots when I needed to.”

Lewis scored 20 points in the game, all coming after halftime as he followed up winning MIAA tournament MVP honors the season before.

“Postseason play is always fun. This is what we work for all year, so just to be able to come out here and compete with my guys one last time. This is definitely special for me,” Lewis said.

The Hornets began to battle back, with Turner knocking down jump shots and with post players getting to the free throw line. With just over three minutes to go, the lead was cut to just three.

Geiman would take over for the next two minutes, leading Washburn on a 9-4 run, scoring seven points and assisting the other two. Three of the points came on a pull-up 3-pointer with 1:30 left to take a six-point lead.

Emporia State was forced to foul, and Lewis came through at the line, knocking down three of four free throws in the final seconds to secure an 88-81 win.

“The game went about how I thought it would go … we knew we would have to grind it out,” Ballard said. “I just like that we didn’t flinch, kept playing and responded the right way.”

Geiman and Lewis paced the Ichabods with 20 points each, with Geiman notching seven assists. Deffebaugh scored 14 on 4-8 shooting and Keegan and Clausing scored 12 and 11 respectively as all five starters reached double figures.

Washburn will play in less than 24 hours, taking on No. 1 Central Oklahoma in the semifinals Mar. 5 at 6 p.m.

Edited by: Katrina Johnson, Ellie Walker