The Washburn women’s basketball team pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat Missouri Southern in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Wednesday afternoon, 66-52. The Ichabods will take on the top-seed and No. 15-ranked Central Missouri tomorrow (Thursday, March 5) at noon.
The opening quarter saw four lead changes after several scoring bursts by both teams. With Washburn trailing 7-2 three minutes into the game, Alexis McAfee’s jump shot sparked an 11-0 run to put Washburn in front, 13-7. Missouri Southern responded with a run of its own, making eight of the final nine points scored in the frame to lead 15-14.
Washburn (18-11) reclaimed the lead early into the second quarter after Mia Castaneda converted on an old-fashioned three-point play. The Lions evened the score at 17 and 21, but Washburn’s defense shut down the Lions and held them scoreless for the final 6:22 of the half while the Ichabods went on to score nine unanswered points for a 30-21 advantage at halftime.
Washburn grabbed its largest lead of the game early into the second half as Hunter Bentley drained a three-pointer and then grabbed a steal on the Lions’ next possession and Shelbe Piggie capitalized on the MSSU error with a jumper to make it 35-23. The Lions came roaring back into the game with a 15-2 run that consisted of three triples to flip the score in their favor, 39-37. Castaneda hit two free throws in the final minute to break the tie and put Washburn back in front, 45-43.
The Ichabod offense came alive against to start the fourth, scoring 14 unanswered points to go up by double-figures again at 58-43. Washburn outscored Missouri Southern, 21-9, in the final quarter and led by as many as 18 points, 66-48, after Piggie went a 4-0 mini scoring run herself.
Washburn finished the game with a 43.4 field goal percentage (23-of-53) and went 5-for-16 from deep while Missouri Southern shot 31.1 percent (19-of-61) and made 4-for-26 from three-point land. The Lions were 0-9 from beyond the arc in the second half. WU out rebounded MSSU, 30-20, including a dozen offensive boards that the Ichabods turned into 18 points.
Piggie was 7-for-10 from the field and paced the Ichabods with 19 points. Bentley chipped in 17 points and Phelan finished with 10. McAfee and Phelan each pulled down nine boards.
Destiny Cozart led all scorers with 20 points and had five steals for the Lions. Missouri Southern’s season comes to a close with a record of 10-18.