WU men can't overcome crunch-time funk in 89-80 defeat at Missouri Southern

The Capital-Journal

The Washburn men’s basketball team went cold at the worst possible time Thursday.

Now the Ichabods have to hope the same isn’t becoming true of their season.

WU fell 89-80 to Missouri Southern at Leggett and Platt Athletic Center in Joplin, Mo., with a 2-for-8 shooting stretch across the game’s final five minutes turning what had been a three-point lead into a decisive defeat. The result — the Ichabods’ third loss in their last four contests — wasted a sensational performance from sophomore guard Tyler Nelson, with the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder posting a career-high 25 points and seven rebounds in the setback.

The Ichabods (15-6, 15-6 MIAA) led 76-73 following Will McKee's layup with 5:22 remaining. But WU went into a shooting funk from there, with five missed 3s and a turnover coming as part of that 2-of-8 finish from the floor. The only two makes in that stretch, back-to-back jumpers by Tyler Geiman and Carter Rathen, made it a one-possession game, 83-80, with 1:14 left, but Lawson Jenkins responded 10 seconds later with a dagger 3.

The Lions then iced the victory at the free-throw line, where they were 17 for 25 for the contest. The Ichabods, meanwhile, were just 4 of 4 from the stripe.

Nelson went 5 of 10 from 3-point range, but his WU teammates struggled mightily in that respect, going a collective 3 of 19 from distance in the defeat. Geiman notched 21 points on 9-for-20 shooting and Jalen Lewis added 11 points to round out the double-figure scorers for the Ichabods.

Both teams thrived inside, with Missouri Southern recording 46 points in the paint and WU netting 44 in that category. Cam Martin's 28-point, 14-rebound, 5-assist evening powered the Lions (13-8, 13-8), who held a plus-nine rebounding advantage over the visitors.

WU will look to get back on track in its regular-season finale, a 3 p.m. Saturday tilt with rival Emporia State. The Hornets earned a 91-74 victory over the Ichabods on Jan. 23 in Emporia.

MISSOURI SOUTHERN 89, WASHBURN 80

WASHBURN (15-6, 15-6 MIAA)

Nelson 10-18 0-0 25, Geiman 9-20 2-2 21, Lewis 5-12 0-0 11, Williams 1-1 0-0 2, McKee 1-3 0-0 2, Deffebaugh 3-5 1-1 7, Clausing 3-6 1-1 7, Carter 2-5 0-0 5, Braun 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 34-74 4-4 80.

MISSOURI SOUTHERN (13-8, 13-8 MIAA)

Martin 12-22 1-3 28, Scott 5-7 3-4 14, Bundy 5-8 2-4 12, Jenkins 2-8 5-6 11, Smith 3-3 3-3 9, Dessesow 2-8 2-4 8, Selcuk 3-4 1-1 7. Totals 32-60 17-25 89.

Half — Washburn 47-44. 3-point goals — Washburn 8-29 (Nelson 5-10, Lewis 1-3, Carter 1-4, Geiman 1-7, Deffebaugh 0-1, McKee 0-2, Braun 0-2), Missouri Southern 8-24 (Martin 3-9, Dessesow 2-6, Jenkins 2-7, Scott 1-1, Bundy 0-1). Rebounds — Washburn 32 (Nelson 7), Missouri Southern 41 (Martin 14). Assists — Washburn 9 (Geiman 6), Missouri Southern 18 (Martin 5, Smith 5). Turnovers — Washburn 9 (Nelson 4), Missouri Southern 16 (Martin 6). Blocks — Missouri Southern 2 (Scott, Jenkins). Steals — Washburn 7 (Geiman 2, Williams 2), Missouri Southern 3 (Martin 2). Total fouls — Washburn 17, Missouri Southern 11. Fouled out — Deffebaugh. Technical fouls — none. Officials — Bemis, Short, Campbell. Attendance — 587.