By Todd Fertig

The Washburn men got a big spark from a freshman Saturday to defeat Pittsburg State 81-74 in Lee Arena and stay in the thick of the MIAA race. 

Pittsburg State led by as many as 10 in the first half, but the Ichabods came roaring back in the final minutes of the period.

JackBachelorMS 3Freshman Jack Bachelor led a balanced Washburn attack with 14 points in Saturday's 81-74 MIAA win over Pittsburg State. [File photo/TSN]

BraydenShorter 2Freshman Brayden Shorter scored 13 points and provided Washburn with a big first-half lift in the Ichabods' 81-74 MIAA win over Pittsburg State. [Photo courtesy of Washburn Athletics]

Freshman Brayden Shorter deposited two 3-pointers and dunked over the Gorilla defense – a one-man eight-point run to cut the deficit to 34-32 with 2:17 remaining in the half.  

The Ichabods finished the half with a Jack Bachelor 3-pointer and a driving shot by Sam Ungashick to go up 37-36 at the buzzer, their first lead since they led 2-1 in the opening minute. 

“Sometimes you need that and it’s good to have a guy come off the bench and do that,” Washburn coach Brett Ballard said of the spark provided by Shorter. “We were kind of stagnant and didn’t have much going and he did give us that spark.  

“His teammates set him up. He had a couple of open looks. And then he made a great individual play on the dunk.” 

“I wasn’t trying to take over the game or anything. I am just having fun out there,” Shorter said. “When I dunked it and heard the crowd, I love doing that. As long as I can give my team whatever I can, that’s what I’m going to do.” 

Pittsburg State regained the lead momentarily after halftime, but the Ichabods put together an 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch in which they permitted the Gorillas just two free throws.  

The Gorillas trailed by as many as 14 in the middle of the second half but refused to go quietly. They cut the Ichabod lead to five with six minutes remaining and relentlessly pressured the Ichabods down the stretch. But the home team held off the rally. 

The Ichabods were led in scoring by Bachelor with 14 while Shorter was one of three Ichabods who finished with 13 points. 

For Shorter, the 13-point performance came on the heels of his career-best 14 against Missouri Southern. He also led the Ichabods with eight rebounds Saturday, four more than in any previous game. 

“He’s had some really good practices, which gives me confidence to put him in the game,” Ballard said. “He’s been a great spark for us off the bench. He can shoot it. He’s a good athlete. He had that nice rip dunk on the baseline that got the crowd into it. And he’s gotten better defensively.  

“He’s a hard worker, a competitive kid. For true freshmen, he and Jack (Bachelor), playing in these games is pretty impressive.” 

“I would say it’s just effort in practice,” Shorter said. “We’ve all been competing really well in practice recently. I’ve been working my butt off to try to get some more minutes as a freshman, and I think that’s been really helpful for me to get on the floor more. I feel like I’ve grown a lot since last year when I was playing high school basketball.” 

Washburn finished the day as one of three teams in the MIAA with 8-3 records, with Northwest Missouri sitting atop the league at 9-2.

The Ichabods now head out on a two-week, four-game road string, beginning with a match with Fort Hays State, which is also 8-3 in the conference. 

“It's a big two-week stretch for us for sure. But I like the way we’re trending and hope that our guys are ready to go,” Ballard said. “You’re at the end of January, and you’re in second place in the best conference in the country, you’re doing some good things. But there’s a lot of games left.” 

Ballard acknowledged the importance of the four consecutive road games, but tried to downplay the challenge to the team. 

“I told our guys ‘Everybody makes a big deal out of going on the road. But we’re going to sit on a nice charter bus with internet and TVs. It’s not that big of a deal. And then go play in some good environments, which should be fun,’” Ballard said. “But the reality is you’ve got to be a little bit better on the road. A little bit better with your execution and your discipline. And that home-crowd energy, you’ve got to fight that.” 


Pittsburg State 36 38 -- 74 

Washburn         37 44 -- 81 

Pittsburg State (9-7, 5-5) – English 3-8 3-4 9, Redd 7-10 4-7 18, Alexander 3-11 4-4 10, Frison 3-7 1-3 9, Forney 1-5 0-0 3, Mans 1-4 3-3 6, Prictor 0-0 1-2 1, Shaw 7-13 1-2 18, Hjelmstad 0-0 0-0 0, Shanks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-58 17-25 74. 

Washburn (12-5, 8-3) – Christiansen 3-4 0-0 7, Orr 5-10 3-5 13, Johnson 4-8 0-1 8, Ungashick 6-12 0-0 13, Keegan 3-7 1-2 9, Byrd 2-4 0-0 4, Bachelor 3-6 7-9 14, Shorter 5-10 1-3 13. Totals: 31-61 12-20 81. 

3-point goals — Pittsburg State 7-21 (Shaw 3-5, Frison 2-4, Forney 1-4, Mans 1-3, Alexander 0-4, English 0-1); Washburn 7-16 (Shorter 2-5, Keegan 2-4, Ungashick 1-4, Christiansen 1-2, Bachelor 1-1). Rebounds — Pittsburg State 36 (English 19); Washburn 35 (Shorter 8). Assists — Pittsburg State 12 (Frison 4); Washburn 19 (Keegan 5, Bachelor 5). Turnovers — Pittsburg State 16; Washburn 13.  Fouled out — Ungashick. Attendance — 1,042 

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