Men’s basketball rolls to MIAA championship, loses in finals

Speeding by: Senior, Cameron Wiggins speeds by Northwest Missouri State to make space at the MIAA Tournament.

Bryan Grabauskas

The men’s basketball team could started postseason play as they traveled this weekend to play in the MIAA tournament. Their first opponent was the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

These two teams were very familiar with each other as they played earlier in the regular season for home and away matches. Washburn came away with wins in both of the previous outings, with scores of 78-71 and 87-83.

The game started out fairly even, as both teams were putting up points. The Lopers had a bit of a lead throughout the first half, but the Ichabods consistently kept the score within one or two shots.

Then, with eight minutes left in the first half, Washburn pushed the pedal all the way down and started to take off. After a 19-19 tie, the Ichabods left the Lopers behind, outscoring them 18-10 to close out the half.

Washburn kept the pressure on Nebraska as the second half started, eventually getting ahead by 16 points. The Lopers tried to fight back but Washburn had built too much of a lead. Led by senior, Cameron Wiggins’ 27 points, Washburn won the game by a final score of 75-65.

The next round saw another familiar opponent, Fort Hays State. Washburn defeated them  69-58 and 76-70 earlier in the season.

Washburn started off hot in this game, taking an early 14-4 lead over the Tigers.

Fort Hays State continuously attempted to dig themselves out of the early hole they found themselves in, but Washburn kept pushing them back, consistently scoring and maintaining a seven to eight point lead.

That is, until the Ichabods pushed even harder. Within the last four minutes of the first half, Washburn went from a 24-14 lead to a dominant lead of 41-20.

The Ichabods came out of the second half swinging, hitting a peak of a 29-point lead. They kept up the dominant play and skated to a victory. Washburn won 77-53 behind senior, Brady Skeens’ 24 points.

After two victories, Washburn had to face Northwest Missouri State, a team that had stolen victory from them in both meetings this season.

Washburn got off to another fast start, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. However, the Bearcats weren’t phased.

They fought back to try to even the score, cutting it to 10-9. They pushed even further to take the lead. They managed to build up a 21-12 lead through the opening half.

The Ichabods rallied back to get the score within three, at 21-24, but Northwest Missouri State charged their way to another big lead before the half was over. The half ended with the Bearcats ahead, 41-28.

The Ichabods attempted to rally their way back into the game, but the Bearcats could not prevail.

As time wound down, Washburn managed to cut the deficit, coming within three points of the Bearcats four times, but never regained the lead. The Bearcats became MIAA champions with an 80-74 victory over the Ichabods.

Up next for the Ichabods is a NCAA tournament match against the Northern State Wolves in Maryville, Missouri. Washburn will be the seventh seed in this two and seven seed matchup of the tournament March 10 at 2:15 p.m