Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
The Lady Eagles basketball squad faced off against Washburn for the first time in Topeka, Kan., last Thursday in a non-conference game.
Coaches scheduled the non-conference game to give the team a chance to refine their skills, due to the fact the Lady Eagles’ Heartland Conference travel partner, Dallas Baptist University, does not have a women’s basketball team.
Oklahoma Christian University headed into the game with a 6-6 record and the hopes of adding another win.
This would seem to be no easy task, as Washburn boasted an 8-5 record and the title of two-time defending champion of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Earlier in the season Washburn was ranked No. 16 in Division II.
The Lady Eagles had just completed a big win against long-time rivals Rodgers State, pulling a 90-77 victory against the Hillcats.
Sophomore Sydney Hill blazed a trail with 22 points, and freshman McKenzie Stanford followed close behind, scoring 19 points of her own.
“We felt confident heading into last Thursday’s game,” senior Krista Stevens said. “We are always confident going into games, but we knew we had to come prepared to play with our minds mentally ready. Any time you play on the road it is always harder and like coach Findley said, when we play on the road it is like we start the game off down by 10 points.”
Despite the unfamiliarity of a foreign court and audience, the Lady Eagles started the game off fighting, but ultimately proved unable to match Washburn’s 3-pointers.
Taylor Ignoto, No. 22 for Washburn, scored six 3-pointers in the first half of her debut start.
Ignoto had all but one of the Ichabods’ seven 3-pointers in the first half.
Washburn shot 77 percent behind the arc at the half.
She scored 21 points overall in the first half, pushing Washburn to take the lead.
“We had a hard time in the first half because of No. 22,” senior Roz Hamilton said, “She shot 100 percent in the first half and was making all kinds of crazy shots out of double-teams.”
Washburn, with its nearly one-woman offense the first half, took a 48-27 halftime lead, shooting 58 percent in the first half.
The Lady Eagles sank 36 percent.
Oklahoma Christian regrouped during the break and came out swinging with a 13-4 run. Closing the gap, the Lady Eagles kept Ignoto scoreless the entire second half.
The Ichabods would keep their lead however, taking the 79-66 victory.
“I think we worked better in the second half than in the first half honestly,” sophomore Jasmine Hinton said. “In the first half we got into a deep hole and couldn’t get a good defense stop.”
Stevens echoed her sentiments about the second half.
“In the second half we outscored Washburn by eight,” Stevens said.”In the first half, No. 22 [Ignoto] had 21 points and six 3s. So one girl alone really put us in a hole we had to work our way out of.”
Hamilton and Stevens added to the scoreboard with 12 points apiece.
The Ichabods’ Kara Lee also had an excellent game, earning her first double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Although the Lady Eagles lost, they took away a lot from the game and will be even more prepared for future games, according to Hamilton.
“We were able to take a lot of good things out of this loss,” Hamilton said. “Washburn is a great, established program. We’re trying to build up a reputation in DII, and I think we accomplished that in the way that we played.”
Hinton set new goals for the next game and the rest of the season based off the game last Thursday.
“I need to keep my head up when things aren’t going my way,” Hinton said. “When I get in the game, I want to be the player that changes the game in a good way. I want to be the one that the other team doesn’t like because I can stop their best players.”
Stevens echoed Hinton’s drive, setting a few goals for herself as well.
“I would really focus on making my free throws and trying to go help the posts rebound more,” Stevens said. “I missed three free throws, which is unacceptable because they are free and Washburn out-rebounded us by quite a few.”
The Lady Eagles returned to conference play on Thursday, playing the Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies at Oklahoma Christian.
The Aggies had a rough season prior to Thursday’s game, entering with a 13-game losing streak hanging over their heads.
The Lady Eagles headed into the game with a record of 6-7, hoping to become a .500 team with a win.
Visit The Talon online at talonatoc.com for an update of Thursday’s game against the Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies.