Fueled by seven double-figure scorers, the Washburn men’s basketball gave head coach Brett Ballard his first victory as head coach as the team downed Winona State, 84-75 in the final day of the Hillyard Classic in St. Joseph, Mo.
Javion Blake finished with a team-best 13 points, while Brady Skeens and Randall Smith followed with 12 apiece. Tyas Martin and Tyler Geiman each added 11 with Cameron Wiggins and David Salach netting 10. Skeens also pulled down a game-high 11 boards for a double-double. Geiman also had a game-high as he dished out five assists.
The Ichabods trailed Winona State (1-1) for the entirety of the first half with seven points as its largest deficit of the game coming midway through the period. During the opening 20 minutes, the Warriors outshot Washburn from the field, .480-.419, three-point distance, .375-.231, and from the line, .750-.667 and narrowly won the rebound battle in the first, 36-35.
Salach’s eight point led the scoring for Washburn in the first as he knocked four jumpers, the last coming at the 2:53 mark to trim the WSU lead to 32-31. The Warriors though responded with a 4-1 spurt while eating 1:46 from the clock. Trailing, 36-32, Smith found Martin wide open up in the corner allowing him to bury a trey before the halftime buzzer cutting the Winona State advantage to 36-35 as the team headed back to the locker rooms for the break.
Washburn forced the first tie of the contest at the 18:56 mark of the second as Skeens leveled the score at 39 with a layup. The Ichabods knotted the score twice more before taking their first lead of the night with 13:28 remaining as Martin nudged them ahead 52-50.
After WSU tied the game for the fifth and final time at 52, Washburn began surging behind an 8-2 run, giving it a 60-54 lead with 11:33 to go. The run was sparked with a three-pointer from Wiggins before adding two more from the charity stripe, while Skeens filled out the balance.
WU’s largest lead of the contest came with 2:57 remaining on the clock thanks in part to a 9-2 run pushing it ahead 84-71.
Collectively, the Ichabods’ shooting improved in the second as they converted 51.5 percent from the field, with 37.5 percent from behind the arc. The Washburn defense meanwhile held the Warriors to 42.9 percent from the floor while completing shutting down their attempts from distance as they went 0-for-4. WU also dominated the glass in the final 20 minutes outrebounding Winona State, 23-14, including 15 defensive boards.
Skeens and Blake leading the second half charge as each dropped in 11 points with Wiggins putting up 10.
Washburn returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 15 with its home opener against Baker (Kan.). Tip off from Lee Arena is slated for 7:30 p.m.