TOPEKA, Kan. -- Behind a career-high 23 points from Martin Mitchell, the No. 8-ranked Washburn Ichabods turned a 3-point halftime deficit into a 61-54 win over Emporia State in non-conference action in Lee Arena on Wednesday night. Washburn will return to MIAA play at 3:30 p.m. against Central Oklahoma on Saturday in Edmond.
The Ichabods (8-1) trailed by three at the break at 27-24 after leading by as many as five points in the opening half at 11-6 midway through the period but thanks to an 11-6 run by the Hornets over the final 2:41 of the first half, ESU took the three-point lead into the break. The teams finished a combined 1 of 10 from behind the arc in the first half as the Ichabods were 10 of 27 overall while the Hornets connected on 11 of 26 overall.
In the second half, the Hornets (5-5) would stretch their lead to as many as seven at 35-28 on a 3-pointer by Taylor Euler who had 17 points to lead ESU. Mitchell would answer with a 3-pointer of his own starting a string on eight-straight Washburn points finishing his outburst with a 3-pointer at the 14:48 mark of the second half to pull Washburn back within one at 37-36.
Another 3-pointer by Euler with 9:36 to go in the game pushed the Hornet lead back to seven at 47-40, but again Mitchell answered with one of his own and Will McNeil hit a free throw and Jared Henry connected on a jumper to cut the lead back to one with 7:18 to play in the game.
Back-to-back jumpers by Leon Flowers and Bobby Chipman gave the Ichabos a short-lived lead at 50-49 with 4:10 to play in the game, but the Hornets took the lead back on a tip in by Paul Bunch, who finished with a double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Ichabods would go on a 5-0 run with a jumper by Mitchell on his 20th and 21st points of the night and free throws by McNeill and Chipman stretched the Ichabod lead up to three at 55-51 with 1:49 to play.
A lay up by Terrance Moore with 46 seconds remaining cut the Ichabod lead to three at 57-54, but the Ichabods finished the game 4 of 6 from the free throw line to wrap up the win.
Mitchell led the Ichabos with his career-high of 23 topping his previous mark of 19. McNeill finished with 10 going 8 of 11 from the free throw line adding four steals. Alex North and McNeill each had six rebounds.
Washburn finished 20 of 48 from the field for 42 percent while the Hornets were 21 of 50 overall at 42 percent. Washburn was 18 of 30 from the free throw line while the Hornets were 8 of 21 from the charity stripe in the game. Washburn forced 19 Hornets turnovers leading to 18 Ichabod points. Washburn was outrebounded 36 to 31 in the game. Washburn managed only seven offensive rebounds compared to 11 for the Hornets.