HAYS -- In a back-and-forth battle throughout the second half, Washburn dealt the final blow with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to escape Hays with an 80-78 decision.
The Tigers had just taken the lead on a Jared Vitztum 3-point field goal with 8.3 seconds remaining before Washburn's Jalen Lewis broke free off an inbounds pass with 2.8 seconds to go in the game. Lewis just beat the final gun to flip the final tally back in favor of the Ichabods.
The Tigers had to break a little rust off early in the game to get going, falling behind by 14 midway through the first half. They got the offense going late in the opening half using Ichabod turnovers to fuel a 21-11 run, pulling within four at halftime, 38-34.
A quick 4-0 burst to open the second half on a Gilbert Peters layup and a fast break layup from Alvin Thompson knotted the score at 38-38. FHSU would tie the game four more times before sneaking past the Ichabods for the first time since the opening basket of the game. A pair of free throws from Thompson put FHSU up 53-52 with 12 minutes remaining.
The game, which saw 13 lead changes and 9 ties, remained tight the rest of the way. Vitztum turned up clutch for FHSU late in the game, scoring the Tigers' final 10 points. He had a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up one with 2:26 remaining, hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining to put the Tigers up two, then made a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up four with 1:25 remaining.
However, Washburn kept countering with good 3-point shooting throughout the game. The Ichabods buried 14 3-point field goals, including their last three attempts over the final 1:14. Lewis hit from long distance with 19 seconds remaining to flip a one-point FHSU lead to a two-point Washburn lead. Vitztum of FHSU countered with his 3-point field goal with just over eight ticks remaining. But, after the Tigers nearly stole the ball with 2.8 seconds left and the ball went out of bounds in favor of Washburn, Lewis broke free at the top of the arc just before the buzzer and splashed a 3-point shot to give Washburn the game.
Lewis finished with 15 points, all on 3-point field goals, going 5-of-7 beyond the arc for Washburn. Drew Maschoff and Tyler Geiman were the high-point scorers for Washburn, each with 20, while Geiman was just shy of a double-double with nine assists. Washburn shot 50.9 percent overall in the game.
With the late barrage of scoring, Vitztum led the Tigers with 16 points and was just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds. Alvin Thompson had 14 points, while newcomers Quinten Rock and Jordan Pumphrey each had 12. Pumphrey did all of his damage beyond the 3-point line with four triples. Rock tied Kaleb Hammeke for team-high honors in assists, each with four.
The Tigers look to bounce back from the season-opening heartbreaker when they host Emporia State on Saturday at 4 pm.