Chiefs pull away from Washington
Washington came out guns blazing in Friday’s Southeast Conference game against Keokuk. Senior Kyle Roder drained four 3-pointers in the first half, and the Demons made seven as a team in the game’s first 16 minutes as they hung right with the Chiefs.
But the Demons seemed to run out of ammunition in the second half, and the visiting Chiefs pulled away for a 67-46 win.
“We had easy looks at it [in the first half],” Washington head coach Bryce Smeins said. “In the second half, we didn’t have as many easy looks. We struggled from the floor.”
Washington trailed Keokuk by only eight points at halftime, but was out-scored 19-7 in the third quarter as the Chiefs took control of the game.
“The second half we switched some defenses up and put guys in spots where they like to shoot,” Keokuk head coach Jeff Dahl said. “I think we did an excellent job. Roder didn’t have any points in the second half. He had four threes in the first. So I think that was crucial for us.”
The Chiefs (12-5, 3-3 SEC) also took advantage of their height advantage in the second half. Senior Kendall Clark, who at 6-foot-8 stood 5 inches taller than anyone on Washington’s roster, scored 13 of his game-high 21 points after halftime. Clark also had 11 rebounds in the contest.
“We couldn’t guard the big fella down low in the half-court game,” Smeins said. “He was a horse. That’s what we were afraid of, that if we got into a half-court game we wouldn’t be able to handle him. And we couldn’t.”
Sophomore Jonny Dahl sank four 3-pointers and added 20 points for Keokuk, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Senior Dan Williams chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“We were on a three-game losing streak, so it was really good to win again,” Jeff Dahl said.
Washington did its best to try to extend Keokuk’s losing streak by nailing long-distance shots in the first half. Roder’s first 3-pointer of the game gave the Demons an 11-9 lead, and senior Justin Hoffman’s 3-pointer from the corner put Washington ahead 14-13 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
After Keokuk went on a 13-0 run to take a 29-16 lead early in the second quarter, Washington junior Alex Coker answered with a 3-pointer. Then Roder banked in a 3-pointer from nearly an impossible angle. The shot seemed to embolden him, as he nailed another 3-pointer on Washington’s next possession to pull the Demons within four.
“That one got away from me a little bit, but luckily banked and went in,” Roder said. “I was like, ‘Well, if I got that lucky, maybe I’ll start making some.’ So I just kept shooting.”
Roder hit another 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in the first half that pulled the Demons to within six, but Clark scored a layup as time expired to give the Chiefs a 39-31 lead at the intermission.
“I think it was our best half of the year,” Smeins said. “We got out and we passed the ball really well and found open guys. We didn’t dribble it too much. We got pretty good looks and we shot it pretty well. We didn’t shoot very well from the free-throw line in the first half. If we had knocked down our free throws in the first half, we might have been ahead at halftime. But that was our best offensive half of the year.”
But the Chiefs guarded Roder and the Demons a bit more closely in the second half. Roder didn’t score again and finished with 12 points.
“When we came out, they clamped down [on me] a little bit,” Roder said. “We just couldn’t make shots after that.”
The Demons, who fell to 4-11 overall and 1-5 in the conference, are still looking to put a full 32 minutes of solid play together.
“We’ve yet to play a full game, like coach has been saying,” Roder said. “We’ve gotten to three quarters, but not a full game. So that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The Demons will try to play a full 32 minutes when they travel to IMS for a non-conference game tomorrow night.