Washburn wins first home game with new head coach


Jeremy Ford

Washburn wins their first home game with new head coach Lora Westling.

Friday, Nov. 11, Washburn played their first home game of the year against the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Bulldogs in their annual Crossover Classic. This season will be head coach Lora Westling’s first season with the Ichabods, but this isn’t her first meeting with Washburn. Westling played for the Ichabods from 2001-2005 and helped her team to their first NCAA Division II championship in 2005.

“It’s a lot of fun because the same things that brought me here as a recruited athlete are the same things that brought me here as a coach. The people, the relationships and how incredible Washburn really is […] is what makes Washburn such a special place,” Westling said. There were definitely moments to be cherished for Westling, but she was more focused on winning the game.

The Bulldogs came out of the gate ready to play, making 2 three pointers and 2 layups as well as putting on a full court press. Washburn didn’t struggle to break the press, but the Bulldog defense was making it difficult for them to get their offense flowing. After some on-the-fly adjustments, Macy Doebele, senior guard, was able to take it in the paint and score an and-one layup. The Ichabods still continued to struggle, giving up 6 points off of 3 turnovers, giving the Bulldogs a 16-6 lead. With two minutes left in the first quarter, Washburn started to get back on track with a mid-range jumper from Aubree Dewey, junior guard, and a corner three from Gabi Artis, freshman guard. The Bulldogs were left with just enough time to get one more shot up. With five seconds left, Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Layni Zinn made a short jumpshot to end the first quarter 21-11.

In the second quarter, the Ichabods began to close the gap and make it a much more competitive game. Dewey helped start the comeback with a tough layup and made a jump shot. Washburn continued to climb back, with a layup from Doebele and a three pointer from Natalia Figueroa, freshman guard. Washburn’s defense also started to play much better, forcing eight of SWOSU’s 12 first half turnovers. The Ichabods started to leave the Bulldogs in the dust after Mackenzie Gamble, junior guard, hit back-to-back threes in the last two minutes of the half. Washburn’s defense continued to stun the Bulldogs, as they were only able to make one field goal the entire second quarter. Lauren Cassady, a junior forward, would make one more free throw with five seconds left to end the first half with a 34-26 lead.

Washburn’s first half scoring was very evenly distributed, with Artis, Dewey and Gamble each scoring 6 points. Doebele scored 7 with a perfect shooting percentage and Figueroa scored 5 with 1 three pointer and a pair of free throws. Southwestern Oklahoma State’s scoring was led by Morgan Smith with 9 points and Zinn with 7 points. SWOSU shot extremely poorly in the first half, shooting 10 for 30 compared to Washburn’s 11-23 – a much more efficient field goal percentage.

The Bulldogs started the third quarter with a set play for a wide open three, but Doebele pulled in the rebound and took off down the court. She passed it off to Figueroa who traveled and turned the ball over, resulting in the Bulldogs to fix their mistake and make a corner three. The Ichabods got the ball back to try again, but Dewey got called for a carry at half court, resulting in another Ichabod turnover. The Ichabods played great defense and forced the Bulldogs to put up a bad shot. After a rebound from Doebele, she was able to take it the length of the floor and make a contested layup.

The Ichabods continued to play well, with Doebele grabbing another rebound and setting up the fast break for Dewey to score another easy layup to give them the 40-29 lead. Washburn didn’t let up on the gas and got Gamble open on the wing for another three pointer. Washburn continued to play good defense, but Southwestern Oklahoma State began to get more open shots, including a three pointer from Smith. With five minutes left and a score of 43-34, both teams would have a dry spell, with neither team being able to make a bucket. It wasn’t until Lizzy Sanders, freshman forward, would score her first points of the game that the dry spell would be broken, leaving only two minutes and 30 seconds in the third quarter of play. The last few minutes would also be low scoring, with only one free throw for the Bulldogs and one layup for Gamble before both teams would head into the final quarter with a score of 47-35.

Sanders helped the team extend their lead with a nice post move down low and a long two in front of Washburn’s bench. The Bulldogs, down by a considerable amount, began to make some needed shots. With a three pointer for Adyson Wilson, a steal from Zinn and a two-point shot from Shamica Smith, Southwestern Oklahoma State wasn’t going to give up. After another three pointer from Zinn to close the gap to 51-45, the Bulldogs were looking to make a comeback. However, Washburn wasn’t so easily convinced, as Deobele’s layup seemed to bring the Bulldog’s hot hand to a grinding halt.

Both teams began to play tough defense, forcing bad shots and turnovers for the next few minutes of the game. This time it was Artis who would get into the paint for the layup and stop the cold streak. The Bulldogs were desperate and needed to make up some ground. They started to press the Washburn offense, but it didn’t seem to be working. If anything, it gave Washburn more opportunities to score on the offensive end. Dewey scored another layup, but SWOSU answered with a layup of their own. After two offensive rebounds, Cassaday put in another layup to make the score 59-47 and Washburn was finally able to seal the deal. After Gamble hit two more three pointers and a pair of free throws, it was smooth sailing from then on out. Washburn won their first home game of the season 71-55.

Gamble was the top scorer on the night with 19 points, shooting 5 for 7 from the three point line. She had a huge performance coming off the bench – something that Washburn is going to need for the remainder of the season.

The Ichabods play a back-to-back game on Nov. 12 against Oklahoma Baptist University, and they’re planning on taking the right steps to be able to make that a great game.

“It starts tonight; getting a good night’s rest, getting a good meal and waking up and being prepared. It’s not all about the next game; it’s also about having a good shootaround and making sure you’re prepared,” Gamble said.

Westling and the Ichabods have made a good start to their season with a win over Southwestern Oklahoma State. They hope to leave the Crossover Classic with two wins and start the season on the right foot.

To see the stats for the game, the team’s schedule or a full completed roster, check out WUSports.com for full coverage of Washburn Women’s basketball and more.

Edited by Aja Carter, Simran Shrestha