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Deffebaugh delivers as Washburn men defeat Kearney, 79-77

By KYLE MANTHE

The Washburn Review

After dropping its first conference matchup Washburn men’s basketball was looking to avoid falling into a hole early in conference play against Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday at Lee Arena.

Thanks to strong bench contributions and one clutch bucket from sophomore Connor Deffebaugh the Ichabods accomplished that objective with a 79-77 MIAA victory.

“This is a game, they are all important, but it felt like it was a big one from the standpoint that it gave us confidence,” Washburn coach Brett Ballard said. “You can’t dig yourself too much of a hole in this conference if you want to compete for a championship.”

IMG 2302Connor Deffebaugh scored the game-winning basket in the closing seconds Saturday, giving Washburn a 79-77 MIAA victory at Lee Arena. [Photo by Kyle Manthe/TSN]

Saturday's win moved the Ichabods to 4-4 on the year and 1-1 in the MIAA.

But the high scoring game did not start that way as Washburn managed only four points in the first five plus minutes of action, trailing by as many as eight points early on.

A run of seven early points by Deffebaugh kept the Ichabods in the action while its defense slipped.

Freshman Michael Keegan helped shore up the defense with two big blocks in the first half along with back-to-back layups that gave Washburn a 25-24 lead.

Kearney shot well from outside, knocking down five triples in the first half, taking a 34-32 lead into the break.

Offense came easy from both sides to begin the second half, with a combined 30 points in the first six minutes. Keegan and Deffebaugh continued to play fast, pushing pace and picking up four points each in that period, while freshman Andrew Orr also put in four points.

“Kearney plays guys a lot of minutes and so we always wanted to play with pace and we did want to wear them down,'' Ballard said. "I thought we got some opportunistic transition opportunities which was good.''

The initial flurry of points tied the game but the Ichabods broke the seal with a 7-2 run with back-to-back three-pointers by Deffebaugh and senior Jeremy Harrell who finished with 10 points off the bench, all in the second half.

“Just coming in, in the first half we were kind of dead, and I knew we needed that spark on the defensive end, so that is what I did,” Harrell said.

Another member of the bench mob, sophomore Kevaughn Ellis, added seven second-half points by getting into the lane to keep the offense going inside the five-minute mark.

“We finally had the free throw advantage which was obviously huge and we are still missing some pretty wide-open threes which I think are going to go down pretty soon. We knock some of those down and hopefully our offense will click even better,” Ballard said.

The Lopers started getting to the line, taking a small lead that was erased by a corner three from freshman Levi Braun at the 2:52 mark, providing a two-point cushion.

Four straight points by Keegan extended the lead to six points. After cutting it in half with one three, Kearney executed an out of bounds play to free up junior David Simental to score three of his game-high 21 points and tie the game with 27.7 left.

Washburn held for the last shot, allowing Deffebaugh to wind down the clock and attack with ten seconds on the clock as the lefty drove right and put in the game-winning basket with his right hand with two second left.

“We needed a bucket, coach called a play, tie game, I wanted to get something downhill, get to the rim, hopefully get fouled and then I made the shot,” Deffebaugh said. “We have been going through a lot this past week as a team, just going through adversity, so this game was just real good for us to come together.”

Kearney's fullcourt heave did not fall and the Ichabods escaped with the hard-earned victory.

“It’s starting to really click, guys starting to play. Kevaughn Ellis played really good, Jerm (Jeremy Harrell) came off the bench, had a spark, had real good energy and Mike (Michael Keegan) been doing what he been doing all year,” Deffebaugh said.

IMG 2325Michael Keegan scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Washburn's 79-77 MIAA win over Nebraska-Kearney Saturday. [Photo by Kyle Manthe/TSN]

Deffebaugh led WU with 19 points on eight of 10 shooting, while dishing out a team-high five assists as well. Keegan added a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds while Ellis and Harrell finished with 11 and 10 respectively.

Next up for Washburn is a trip to Edmond, Oklahoma to face the University of Central Oklahoma next Thursday.

WASHBURN MEN 79, NEBRSKA-KEARNEY 77

Nebraska-Kearney 34 43 -- 77

Washburn 32 47 -- 79

NEBRASKA-KEARNEY (3-4 0-1)

Nebeker 8-10 3-4 20, Murphy 4-6 1-2 9, Luger 5-13 0-0 12, Simental 8-20 0-0 21, Evans 3-7 2-2 8, Cook 2-5 0-0 4, Brien 1-1 0-0 3, Badding 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 6-8 77.

WASHBURN (4-4 1-1)

Orr 4-9 0-0 8, Thorne 1-1 0-0 2, Deffebaugh 8-10 1-2 19, Lewis 1-9 2-2 5, Keegan 6-12 6-7 18, Braun 2-4 0-0 6, Harrell 4-7 0-0 10, Ellis 4-7 3-3 11, Carter 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 12-14 79.

3-point-shots – Kearney: 9-27 (Nebeker 1-1, Murphy 0-2, Luger 2-7, Simental 5-11, Evans 0-4, Cook 0-1, Brien 1-1). Washburn 7-19 (Deffebaugh 2-3, Lewis 1-5, Keegan 0-2, Braun 2-4, Harrell 2-4, Ellis 0-1). Rebounds – Kearney 31 (Murphy 8), Washburn 30 (Keegan 8). Assists – Kearney 14 (Evans 5), Washburn 16 (Deffebaugh 5). Turnovers – Kearney 7, Washburn 8. Total fouls – Kearney 13, Washburn 10. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.