WICHITA FALLS, Texas – Washburn won its first NCAA tournament game since 2004 and topped Northwest Missouri State in the process with a 69-60 victory against the Bearcats in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Washburn (25-7) trailed 10-1 early in the game as the Ichabods did not hit a field goal until the 14:51 mark of the game when Will McNeill removed the cover with a jumper in the lane. Washburn continued to struggle from the field as the Bearcats increased their lead to 11 with 7:49 to play in the first half when Northwest (22-7) led 24-13.
The Ichabods went on a 15-4 run cutting the Northwest lead to one at 29-28 capped by a 3-pointer by Christian Ulsaker, but it would be the closest the Ichabods would get the rest of the way as Northwest took a 32-28 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Ichabods gained the lead for good when Alex North hit a fast break jumper putting the Ichabods up 35-34 with 17:10 to go in the game. Washburn continued their run and pushed its lead up to eight at 48-40 on a 3-pointer by Ulsaker with 11:16 to play in the game.
The Bearcats pulled back within two on two different occassions, the last at 55-53 with 2:26 to go, but nine consecutive points by McNeill kept the Ichabods up by seven at 62-55 as Washburn would go on to win 69-60.
McNeill led all scorers with 20 points and collected one steal giving him 74 for the season setting a Washburn single-season record. He finished 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Martin Mitchell scored 14 and Ulsaker had a career-high 14 going 3-of-3 from the field including a pair of 3-pointers. McNeill led the Ichabods with eight rebounds.
DeShaun Cooper scored 16 points to lead the Bearcats.
Washburn shot 52 percent in the second half after shooting 36 percent in the first half. The Bearcats dipped from 48 percent in the first half to 37 percent in the second.
Washburn turned the ball over only three times including only one turnover in the second half.