The Washburn men’s basketball team took the first of two games in which they faced the Emporia State Hornets in the much anticipated rivalry: the “Turnpike Tussle,” referring to I-70 linking Emporia to Topeka.
The Ichabods entered the game 10-6 following a loss to Northwest Missouri State University on Saturday, Jan. 16, and Emporia was 8-9. After the win, Washburn is 7-5 in the conference standings.
Washburn started off with runs and led from start to finish, taking as much as a 14-point lead, and taking run after run and going up 33-19 with 2:30 left in the first half. The game of runs was not one sided as the Hornets also took a run before the half ended, taking a 10-1 run bringing the game within 5, and when halftime struck the Ichabods led 34-29.
The Hornets kept the run going after halftime, pushing the lead to only 1, 34-33, then back-to-back layups from Cameron Wiggins and Brady Skeens gave the Ichabods a 5-point cushion.
After going back and forth through most of the second half, Skeens hit a free throw making the lead 12. Emporia responded with an 8-2 run cutting the lead to six with 1:55 left in the second at 61-55. The game drew even closer, as Emporia hit another jumper to bring it within 4 with 44 seconds left. Washburn hit 3 of 4 free throws to finish the game up 8 points, 70-62.
Robert Christopher, a junior forward for the Ichabods, knew they had to be prepared for this game after a loss last Saturday.
“It wasn’t supposed to be an easy win,” Christopher said. “They were definitely a difficult team, but we prepared well after that loss we had [to Northwest Missouri State]. I think it’s definitely fuel for our next few games.”
A few clutch shots from Skeens helped bring the home win to Washburn as Brady led the team with 15 points, shooting five of seven (71 percent) from the field and hitting five of eight from the free throw line. Skeins was not only a star on the offense but led the defense with four blocks. Javion Blake also had a great shooting performance, hitting four of six from the field and five for six from the charity stripe. He also contributed to the offense with five assists. Cameron Wiggins put an additional 10 on the board shooting 75 percent (3 for 4) from the field, as well as three of six from the free throw line.
Terrence Moore led the Hornets with 15 while Brandon Halls and Charles McKinney helped with 10 points each.
The Ichabods led in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage with Washburn at 71 percent and the Hornets at 65 percent.
The Ichabods face the University of Central Missouri Mules 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, which is the first time the Ichabods will face the Mules this season. The Mules will enter the contest 12-6, Washburn at 11-6.