Washburn falls in MIAA Tournament final, earns NCAA Tournament bid

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WIBW) -- The Washburn Ichabods cut a 15-point deficit to three in the second half, but couldn't get closer in a 80-74 loss to Northwest Missouri in the MIAA Championship game Sunday at Municipal Auditorium.

Washburn was considered a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament heading into Sunday's final.

"Four of our losses are to top 10 teams in the country," Washburn head coach Brett Ballard said after the game. "I feel like if you look at our strength of schedule, you look at who we've beat, you look at how many wins we have in the region, I feel like it'd be hard to keep us out."

Ballard was right. The Ichabods are going to the NCAA Tournament as a 7-seed and will face Northern State Saturday in the opening round at 2:15 p.m. in Maryville, Mo.

Washburn lost to Northern State 69-57 in the first game of the season.

It's the 13th NCAA postseason appearance, the first since 2012, for the Ichabods.

The bracket announcement comes after an MIAA Championship game that was littered with fouls. The two teams were called for a combined 51 fouls and shot 71 free throws.

Washburn trailed by as many as 15 just before halftime, but managed to cut the deficit to three four different times in the second half.

Brady Skeens led Washburn with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds. It was his 39th career double-double.

Randall Smith chipped in 14 points while Javion Blake had 13.

Northwest Missouri had four players in double-figures led by Ryan Welty's 21 points.

Skeens and Blake were named to the MIAA All-Tournament team.