Women’s basketball falls to Missouri Southern in second round of MIAA tournament


Kyle Manthe

Senior guard Nuria Barrientos goes up for a layup Mar. 3, 2022. Barrientos shot 6-11 in the game.

Washburn women’s basketball team’s season came to an end Thursday afternoon, with a 62-54 second round loss to top-seeded Missouri Southern.

The Ichabods had claimed a first-round victory over Pittsburg State, but an 18-2 third quarter run for the Lions would be too much for Washburn to overcome.

“It was kind of a microcosm [of our season], we just battled. We got down and I have a group that just refuses to shut down. That’s what I really respect about this group, there has been some tough times and they have really dug in and played,” said head coach Ron McHenry.

After trailing by as many as 15 late in the third, the Ichabods had a chance to tie the game in its closing minutes, which McHenry credited to the teams toughness that it had displayed all season.

“They are fighters, and I use that word in the nicest way,” McHenry said. “It was easy to shut it down there in the third, fourth quarter when we were struggling, but we never did … there was chances to shut down out there, but this team’s never done that.”

The loss ends the season and careers for Washburn’s senior class of six, who McHenry credits for keeping the team focused and moving forward all season.

“It’s everything [to play here] I was lucky. Nobody gets to be able to actually play for five years, so that was just really cool for me. This is the best team that I have played on, the most fun we have had,” said senior guard Hunter Bentley, the programs all-time leader in games played.

Washburn will close its season with a record of 14-16, losing in the second round of the MIAA tournament for a second straight season.

Early on, it was the Lions in complete control on both ends, going up 8-0 in the first three and a half minutes on strong drives to the basket.

The Ichabods responded with an 8-0 run, led by Bentley who scored the first four. Each team shot under 35% from the floor in the first quarter, offensive rebounding for Missouri Southern was the key to jumping out ahead 12-10.

Washburn hung around early in the second quarter until MIAA freshman and player of the year Lacy Stokes scored six straight for the Lions, putting them up by nine.

Outside of that, the smaller Ichabods did well defensively to force tough shots and limit looks from the outside.

“This team battled defensively, held their percentages low and made them work hard for their points. But on the other end, they are a great defensive team [as well],” McHenry said.

Washburn scored the final six points of the quarter, all coming in the final 75 seconds to make it a 23-20 game at halftime.

Out of halftime the Ichabods offense got going from the start, six straight points from senior guard Nuria Barrientos put Washburn ahead 28-27 with 6:49 in the quarter.

“Nuria was able to just go baseline and drive … was able to get to the middle of the floor and make plays,” McHenry said.

On the other end, Missouri Southern was driving to the basket hard and were rewarded with eight free throws in the first five minutes to pull right back ahead.

A 3-pointer from the Lions at the 2:53 mark gave them a 7-0 run to go up nine points and forced a timeout.

The deficit grew to as many as 15 points before being cut to just eight in the final seconds of the quarter after seven straight points from Barrientos.

Four points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter from Missouri Southern sophomore Madi Stokes put the lead back to 12.

The Ichabods continued to respond, with a 9-0 run led again by four points from Bentley to pull within four with under five minutes to play.

“A team like Southern … can get away from you fast if you don’t watch out. To hold them to percentages like I said and keep them at a number we had a chance to win the game and get it back to three with under a couple minutes, it tells you a lot about our players,” McHenry said.

A 3-pointer from sophomore guard Macy Doebele with 3:15 remaining made it a 55-52 game, and the deficit would stay there until the Lions knocked down a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to go up by six.

An empty possession from Washburn would force them to foul. Missouri Southern knocked down its free throws and would hold on to win 62-54.

Bentley led the Ichabods with 18 points, while Barrientos added 14 along with eight rebounds. Doebele added nine points and seven rebounds on 3-6 shooting.

After going 1-5 in non-conference play, the Ichabods were able to rebound with a .500 record in conference play in order to even earn a spot in the tournament.

“We struggled at times but I always knew that we could get back in it,” Bentley said. “I am really proud of this team, they have always fought like coach Mac said. We just had fun together and it has been easy for us to battle back.”

The game also wraps up McHenry’s 22nd season as head coach of the women’s team.

“I like the fight, I like this basketball team. I have coached a lot of basketball teams and I like this basketball team. We may not score as fast as some, but we will guard the heck out of you and we will battle you. I always respect them for that,” McHenry said.

Edited by: Ellie Walker, Glorianna Noland