- Created: Wednesday, 01 December 2021 16:39
By RICK PETERSON
Washburn University's men's basketball team gave itself a chance in Wednesday's MIAA opener against Fort Hays State, but couldn't get over the hump in a 68-58 loss at Lee Arena.
After trailing by 11 points with 55-44 with 6:16 remaining, the Ichabods battled back to within three points (57-54) on a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thorne with three minutes left and were still within four (62-58) inside the final minute before the Tigers scored the final six points.
"Our defense has been pretty solid in all these games and has kept us in it,'' Washburn coach Brett Ballard said. "We've got to find a way to score the ball.
"We're just not generating enough easy baskets at the rim and then our 3-point shooting in the real games so far has been brutal. We've got to knock down some shots.''
Washburn, which fell to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA, outscored the Tigers 45-44 from the field but Fort Hays State connected on 24 of 34 free throws to outscore the Ichabods, who were 13 of 19, by a decisive 11 points at the line.
The Ichabods jumped out to a 6-0 lead and would go on to lead 14-10 before the Tigers (5-0, 1-0 MIAA) used a 7-0 run to take a 17-14 lead.
After Washburn regained the lead at 20-17 with 8:33 to play in the opening half, the Tigers used an 11-3 run to push their lead to 28-23 and took a 36-29 advantage at halftime.
The Ichabods cut Fort Hays State's lead to 41-38 with a 9-3 run before the Tigers eventually stretched their advantage to double digits.
Fort Hays State finished the game with an 11-4 spurt, hitting nine of 11 free throws down the stretch to snap Washburn's six-game winning streak over the Tigers.
Freshman Andrew Orr scored a career-high 14 points for Washburn while hitting all seven of his field goal attempts and Orr added six rebounds and two blocks.
Freshman Michael Keegan had 13 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two assists while Thorne had a career-high six assists to go with seven points.
Washburn was still without All-America point guard Tyler Geiman as well as Jonny Clausing and Tyler Nelson against the Tigers.
The Tigers were led by Nyjee Wright with 15 points and Jared Vitztum with 14.
Washburn finished 21 of 52 from the field, hitting 3 of 14 shots from 3-point range.
The Tigers were 19 of 53 from the field and were six of 23 on 3s.
The Tigers had a 38 to 31 rebounding advantage, turning 12 offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points.
The Ichabods return to action on Saturday hosting Nebraska-Kearney at 3 p.m. in Lee Arena.