By KYLE MANTHE
The Washburn Review
After two straight losses and a rash of injuries the Washburn University men’s basketball looked to get back on track Saturday in its home opener against Baker Univeristy.
The Ichabods started the game on a 9-0 scoring run and did not look back, completing a wire-to-wire 90-47 victory at Lee Arena.
“I think it was good to hopefully get some confidence back,” said Washburn coach Brett Ballard. “It was fun to see guys come out and produce when the lights came on.”
The win ended a two-game skid and moved the Ichabods to 2-2 on the season as the team continues to work in many new faces.
“It’s wild what we are dealing with right now from an injury standpoint,” Ballard said. “Right now we are kind of trying to piece it together day-by-day. It will be good for us in the long run I think because we are getting some guys some experience. When we get all of our guys back we have a chance to be really special.”
Washburn’s upperclassmen started the action, with senior Rathen Carter and junior Jalen Lewis combining for 15 of the first 18 Ichabod points, including three 3-pointers. A six-point burst from sophomore Connor Deffebaugh and the lead had grown to nearly 20 points less than 10 minutes in.
On the other end, the Ichabods forced the Wildcats into five turnovers in the first eight minutes of play, and 13 in the half, generating 12 fastbreak points in the first 20 minutes.
“We want to play fast and our transition game hasn’t been as effective as I would like early, so it was good for us to get some steals and get some easy ones,” Ballard said.
Freshman Levi Braun helped the offense in the halfcourt, knocking down two triples as part of eight first half points and a career-high 21 in the game for the Hayden product.
“He is an elite shooter, we got to find a way to get him shots, but that was fun to watch, he is great at what he does,” Ballard said.
Six points in the final 90 seconds for Baker, which was playing the game as an exhibition, made it a 44-27 game at the break.
Scoring was close to even for both sides to begin the second half before Washburn went on a 17-5 run over seven minutes to put the game out of reach. Highlighting the run was Braun who scored the final eight points, including two more triples.
“My teammates just did a good job finding me, I give a lot of the credit to them and the coaches,” Braun said. “It’s my job to make shots so I don’t really get surprised when I make shots.”
Both teams emptied the bench shortly after and the Ichabods continued to score, with the lead growing to 41 points on a steal and slam by sophomore Kevaughn Ellis at the 2:22 mark.
Washburn would go on to secure a 43-point victory, moving to 2-2 on the season in a game that did not look like the last two outings.
“It’s been a little difficult (adjusting to new roles), but you know it’s the next man up mentality,” Braun said. “We have so many weapons, we are missing some really good players but once we get those guys back you know it’s even scarier for us.”
Braun was joined in double figures by Lewis who finished with 14, and Deffebaugh and freshman Andrew Orr who each had 12.
The Ichabods had 15 steals as a team, led by a trio of guards -- Ellis, junior Isaiah Thorne and freshman Azeem Ross who each had three. Thorne also led the way with four assists on the day.
Washburn continues to play without All-American guard Tyer Geiman and post standout Jonny Clausing, who are sidelined with injuries.
Three Topeka products were featured for Baker in the matchup. Ray Swopes from Washburn Rural had eight points, and a pair of Shawnee Heights T-Birds, Tyler White and Michael Brooks, each had three points.
Washburn will be back in action Tuesday when the Ichabods welcome Oklahoma Baptist University to Lee Arena.
WASHBURN MEN 90, BAKER MEN 64
Baker 27 20 -- 47
Washburn 44 46 -- 90
BAKER (3-4 Saturday counted as exhibition)
White 3, Buffalomeat 9, Swopes 8, Batts 2, Brooks 3, Scheer 3, Patterson 4, Woods 8, Elam 4, Wiggs 0, Wilkins 0, Griffiths 3, Mauck 0, Huet 0. Totals 17-44 7-10 47.
Carter 9, Ross 2, Monday 7, Lewis 14, Keegan 3, Braun 21, Orr 12, Ellis 8, Thorne 2, Deffebaugh 12, Harrell 0. Totals 32-62 17-23 90.
3-point shots – Baker: 6-16 (White 1-4, Swopes 1-1, Brooks 1-1, Scheer 1-1, Patterson 0-2, Elam 1-2, Wilkins 0-2, Griffiths 1-3. Washburn: 9-25 (Carter 1-1, Monday 1-4, Lewis 2-6, Keegan 0-3, Braun 4-7, Ellis 1-2, Thorne 0-1, Harrell 0-1). Rebounds –- Baker 24 (Batts 4), Washburn 35 (Carter, Ross, Ellis 5). Assists – Baker 12 (White 3), Washburn 18 (Thorne 4). Turnovers – Baker 26, Washburn 8. Total fouls – Baker 15, Washburn 16. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.