Bearcat men, women sweep Washburn

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The battle of the top two teams in the latest NCAA Central Regional polls went the wrong direction as the Ichabods fell to the nation's No. 1 team in a 72-49 loss to Northwest Missouri. Washburn will wrap up the regular season on Saturday with Missouri Western at 3 p.m. and can wrap up the No. 2 seed in the MIAA Championships Tournament with a win over the Griffons.

Courtesy of Washburn Athletics

After the Ichabods (21-6, 14-4 MIAA) scored the first two points of the game on a jumper David Salach, the Bearcats (29-0, 19-0 MIAA) went on a 14-2 run building a 14-4 lead and would go on to a 24-14 lead before back to back 3-pointers by Salach and Jalen Lewis pulled the Ichabods within four at 24-20 with 5:50 to play before the break, but again the Bearcats pushed the lead back to 12 before Lewis and Tyler Geiman hit back to back treys cutting the lead to six until a 3-pointer by Northwest pushed the margin back to nine at the break as the Bearcats led 35-26.

In the second half, the Ichabods were held to six field goals on 26 attempts finishing with a season-low 16 of 56 from the field at 29 percent shooting for the game while Northwest hit 22 of 50 shots for a 44 percent clip to pick up the 23-point win as the Bearcats would lead by as many as 29 in the game.

Lewis led the Ichabods with 13 points off the bench hitting three 3-pointers and Salach scored 11 and Tyas Martin recorded 10. Joey Witthus led four Bearcats in double figures with a game-high 19 points.

Washburn was outrebounded 39 to 31 in the game as the Bearcats had 10 of their 22 field goals go for 3-pointers in the game while shooting 18 of 23 from the free throw line. Washburn was 12 of 15 from the charity stripe in the game.

Prior to the start of the game on Saturday with Missouri Western, the five seniors and their families on the squad will all be honored prior to tip. They include Javion Blake, David Salach, Tyas Martin, Emeka Ogbonna and Devyn Wilson.

Trailing by as much 17 during the first half, the Washburn Ichabods fell to Northwest Missouri on Thursday, 72-70, slipping to 18-9 on the year and to sixth in the MIAA standings at 13-5.

Down 29-12 midway through the second, Washburn closed the opening on a 9-3 run to trail, 32-21 at the break.

The Ichabods extended their run early into the third, completing three of their first four possessions to trim the deficit to single-figures, 34-27. After a brief 5-0 spurt from the Bearcats (8-20, 4-15 MIAA) nudged the margin back to double-figures. Washburn though retaliated with a 14-2 run taking its first lead, 43-41, with 2:20 mark left in the period.

During the stretch, the Ichabods were 6-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from the behind with Taylor Blue leading the effort as dropped in seven of her team-high 20 points with Alexis McAfee and Reagan Phelan making up the balance. The advantage though was short-lived as Northwest ended the period on an 8-4 rally.

In the fourth, Shelbe Piggie tied the contest 30 seconds as she slashed to the basket for layup before Blue sank her second three of the night, pushing Washburn to a 52-51 lead. However, the margin the quickly disappeared as Northwest Missouri scratched together a 4-0 spurt, moving out front, 55-52, with 7:57 remaining.

Trailing 65-58 with 4:09 to go, the Ichabods regained the lead, 68-67, thanks in part to a quick 8-0 run. Despite converting the final bucket of the night, the rally fell short as Northwest Missouri closed on a 5-2 run.

The Washburn offense was ice cold in the first, opening the night in a 13-0 hole The Ichabods were held to 2-of-9 from the field during the first frame, though finished at .556-clip as it made 30-of-54 chances. The Bearcats however were 11-of-25 from the arc and 25-for-50 overall.

Piggie led bench scorers with 13 points. McAfee chipped in with 10, while Hunter Bentley registered 12 points and pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds for her second-career double-double.

Washburn will close the regular season slate on Saturday as it welcomes Missouri Western to Lee Arena. Tip off between the Ichabods and Griffons is slated for 1 pm. Following the contest, Washburn athletics and women's basketball will recognize the contributions and careers of its five seniors.