By Mo Nuwwarah, Opinion Editor
Washburn beat UNO 88-79 Saturday night at Sapp Fieldhouse, completing a season sweep and hurting the Mavericks’ chances for a postseason bid.
The Ichabods (11-5, 8-4 MIAA) took sole possession of third place in the conference, while the Mavericks (10-6, 7-5) dropped into a tie for fourth with Emporia State. The MIAA usually sends two to four teams to the postseason, leaving UNO with very little margin for error in the final 10 games.
“We needed that split,” UNO head coach Derrin Hansen said.
Washburn shot 56.6 percent from the field, getting good looks by feeding the ball into the post and passing out of double teams. The Mavericks shot just 39.7 percent.
“They played a great game, credit to the team,” said UNO senior guard Tyler Bullock. “But at the end of the day we just didn’t fight. I take that personally.”
Points in the paint, where Washburn held a 42-32 edge, proved to be the Mavericks’ undoing. Ichabod senior forwards’ De’Andre Washington and Logan Stutz each scored 24 points, shooting a combined 16-for-28from the field. Washington also added 11 assists and six rebounds.
“They both pass it so well,” Hansen said. “One-on-one is hard and when you double, you pick your poison.”
Washington, who alternated between attacking from the post and shooting or driving from the perimeter, scored 16 first-half points as Washburn jumped out to a 43-34 halftime lead.
Timely 3-point shooting by Alex Welhouse kept the Mavericks in the game early. The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Kaukauna, Wis., sank all three of his first-half 3-pointers, scoring 11 points off the bench. He finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Bullock and junior guard Mitch Albers, the Mavericks’ most reliable scorers, were held to a combined 12 points in the half.
UNO pulled to within four, at 59-55, on a pair of free throws by Bullock, who finished with 19 points but shot just 5-for-15 from the field.
The Mavericks wouldn’t get any closer, as the Ichabods pulled away with an 11-2 run, punctuated by Stutz’s three-point play that made it 70-57.
A 3-pointer by Albers, who had 20 points, closed the gap to 76-70 with just over two minutes remaining UNO got the ball back after blocking a Nate Daniels layup. Bullock pushed the ball up court and drove the right side of the lane, but lost his footing and missed his runner.
“My team needed me to make a play and I didn’t,” he said. “When you’re a senior with the ball in that situation you’ve got to make a play and I didn’t. We crawled back in it, gave ourselves a chance, and I just let the air out of the balloon.”
Washburn sank enough free throws down the stretch to keep UNO at bay.
Hansen took some of the blame for the crucial loss.
“I did a poor job of getting us ready,” he said. “I just felt we were off balance all night.”