TOPEKA, Kan. After suffering his only loss earlier this season to the Ichabods in Maryville, the No.3-ranked Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball knocked down the target for retribution by beating No.5 Washburn in overtime, 88-85, Saturday at Lee Arena.
In the victory, Northwest (19-1) won their eighth consecutive MIAA crown. The victory also marked the Bearcats’ 14th consecutive victory and 18th consecutive road victory.
If there’s a top-five college basketball game this season at any level, this is one of them. It was fantastic, and our kids showed a lot of courage and tenacity, said Northwestern head coach Ben McCollum.
On Jan. 7, Northwest fell to Washburn (14-5) in overtime, 84-82, scoring the Bearcats’ first loss in over a year and ending a 28-game winning streak for Northwests.
Northwestern junior Trevor Hudgins, who finished with a record 28 points, six assists and passed Scott Fleming for No.5 on the program’s all-time scoring list, said the Bearcats had used defeat as motivation.
We knew we hadn’t played to the best of our ability. They went over there and punched us in the mouth. Then we had about a month to sort out a few issues and come here and win, said Hudgins.
Northwestern junior Diego Bernard and second Luke Waterseach scored 17 points, while senior Ryan Hawkins recorded 16 points.
Washburn was led by Tyler Geiman with 20 points, while Tyler Nelson and Jalen Lewis each added 18 points.
Hot shot defined this battle of top enemies. Northwest had 28 of 59 (57.1%) shots from the field, while Washburn sank 31 of 54 (57.4%) from the ground.
Northwest had a one-point lead, 39-38, at the break in a first half that saw five lead changes and six ties.
On Google, if you are looking for a dog fight, this is what is going to happen. It’s going to happen that two-hour game right there, Hudgins said. I knew it was going to be a 40 minute battle. I knew it was going to be close.
With 1:23 to go, Hawkins sank two free throws to give the Bearcats a one point lead at 71-70.
Then Washburn’s Nelson sank two free throws on the other end to give the Ichabods a one point advantage at 72-71.
Hudgins managed to foul on the Bearcats’ next possession, but only made one of two shots on the line, tying the game at 72-72 with 29.2 seconds left in the game.
After Washburns Connor Deffebaugh missed a shot at the buzzer, the game went into overtime.
The Bearcats have never lagged behind in overtime, but the Ichabods have equalized twice.
The way these kids fought and literally gave their whole soul to this game, I can’t train it. It’s just the internal thing that these kids have, McCollum said. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
With 1:44 to go, Geiman hit a three-run to call, 81-80. Then Bernard scored his own bucket with 1:09 left to give Northwest a three-point lead.
Bernard did everything for the Bearcats late, as he handed it over to Northwestern freshman Byron Alexander, who scored a layup with 29.8 seconds left, extending the Bearcats’ lead at 85-80.
Geiman then knocked down another three points with 24 seconds left to call 85-83.
After a few free throws from Alexander, Nelson and Hudgins, Washburn’s Levi Braun missed a three on the buzzer, sealing the Bearcats 88-85 overtime victory that gave them the No.1 seed for the 2021 MIAA tournament.
Northwest wraps up the regular season at home next week against Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State Thursday and Saturday at Bearcat Arena.
Washburn Women 41, Northwest 38
The Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team fell in Washburn, 41-38, Saturday at Lee Arena.
You have to put the ball in the hole. His basketball, said Northwestern head coach Austin Meyer. You can do a lot of things well and defend yourself, but if you can’t score you’re not going to win.
The Bearcats (7-12) had a 22-13 lead before the break, then the Ichabods (9-10) started the second half with an 8-0 run.
At the end of the third period, the game ended at 28-28.
In the fourth quarter, Northwestern rookie Caely Kesten laid out a layup that followed the Bearcats by one point, 38-39, with just under 30 seconds to go.
Washburn’s Hunter Bentley was fouled and sent to the free throw line where she landed a shot to add to her record of 12 points, securing the Ichabods 41-38 victory.
Northwestern senior Jaelyn Haggard led the Bearcats with nine points on three of six shots from a three-point field, while Northwestern senior Mallory McConkey scored eight points and had eight rebounds.
The Bearcats meet Washburn again on Tuesday to begin their final week of the regular season, with a tip scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Bearcat Arena.