TOPEKA, Kan. (Bearcat Athletics) – The No. 1-ranked Northwest Missouri State University men's basketball team closed out the first 19-0 MIAA mark in the history of the league with a 72-49 road win at Lee Arena over the Washburn Ichabods.
Northwest led by nine at the break, 35-26. The Bearcats then sprinted away in the second half on the strength of a 24-4 run. The Bearcats turned a 46-37 advantage into a 70-41 lead with 3:36 left in the game. The Bearcats locked in defensively and limited the Ichabods to 28.6 percent shooting from the field. Washburn shot 6-of-26 from the field in the second half (23.1 percent).
The Bearcats thrived at the line Thursday by draining 18-of-23 free throws. Senior Joey Witthus was 9-of-10 at the line. Northwest connected on 10 three-pointers, including four from junior Ryan Welty.
Witthus led all scorers with 19 points. Junior Ryan Hawkins secured 18 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Diego Bernard ripped down a team-best 10 rebounds – his second straight double-figure rebounding game.
Northwest will be the No. 1 seed at the MIAA Tournament set for March 6-10 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. Northwest will play its first game of the tournament on Thurs., March 7 against the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game at noon. The complete 2019 MIAA Tournament bracket will be announced Saturday night at the conclusion of league play.