The Washburn Ichabods (14-8) faced off against the Fort Hays State Tigers (13-8) in Lee Arena Feb. 4.
Tigers struggled in the first half but pulled away to a double digit win, 70-54.
The Ichabods started the game slow, shots falling few and far between, but the Tigers didn’t fair much better throughout the first half. The lead was taken early by the Tigers but it was quickly tied up at 7’s, then again at 12’s and one last time at 20’s before Fort Hays State pulled ahead by 5 with just a minute to play in the first.
Brady Skeens showed through the first half that he can play on a big stage, putting up 5 points as well as snatching 9 rebounds in the first half alone. Washburn’s field goal percentage was dangerously low, only 31 percent, but rebounding kept them in the game, leading the battle 20-11 in terms of boards.
Neither team allowed the other much momentum, matching three for three. Isaac Clark also found the rim once in the first half on a devastating putback dunk. Despite a long run to bring them within reach of taking the lead, the Ichabods fell down by 5 as time expired in the first half, 22-27.
The second half was not as forgiving to the Ichabods as they fell to a multiple possession lead early. The Tigers physicality showed as they battle back to even on the boards midway through the second half, 31 rebounds for each team with 8 minutes to play. Skeens and the Tiger’s JaQuan Smith led the game in rebounds up to this point with 11 each.
The Tigers held a 10 point lead with 7:30 remaining in the game, 38-48. Like the first half, it became a slow paced defensive game. WU capitalized on the lack of speed in the Fort Hays’ front court and was able to steal multiple fastbreak points while the Tigers passed the ball well for high percentage inside shots and plenty of open threes, the difference maker in the game.
The Ichabods would only fall farther as the Tigers used turnovers to generate offense and easily coast to the end, 70-54.
Emir Sabic (15 points) and JaQuan Smith (11 points) led the Tigers to victory as leading scorers, and Smith also grabbed 11 rebounds. For the Ichabods; Cameron Wiggins and Isaac Clark each finished with 10, Clark also earned the player of the game award with his 6 rebounds.. Javion Blake and Brady Skeens finished with 8 points, Skeens also grabbed 11 rebounds and swatted away 3 shots.
The Ichabods play their next game against Missouri Western in St. Joseph, MO, on February 8. Now falling to 14-8 on the season, they will try to bounce back against the struggling 7-15 Griffons.