Demons go cold, fall to Muscatine
Washington was held scoreless for a five-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s non-conference contest, and visiting Muscatine took advantage to win 57-47.
“We just didn’t make any shots,” Washington head coach Bryce Smeins said. “Then we had a few turnovers at key times. Between us shooting cold and turning the ball over, it’s hard to win a game.”
Washington senior Justin Hoffman opened the fourth quarter by making a pair off free throws to tie the score at 39, but seconds later Muscatine junior Adam Miller sank his sixth 3-pointer of the game to give the Muskies the lead for good.
“I just shot it and it went in,” Miller said. “I could not have been more excited. It was good to send our team up by three in a close game like this.”
Muscatine senior Tyler Lloyd added a layup, but Washington senior Kyle Roder answered with a 3-pointer that cut the Muskies’ lead back to two with 6:18 remaining. But Washington (1-3) wouldn’t score again until there was less than a minute remaining in the game.
“I think we self destructed a little bit,” Washington junior Alex Coker said. “We had a lot of bad passes. I think we had 25 [turnovers]. We had trouble passing, so we couldn’t really make anything happen offensively.”
Lloyd made another layup and a pair of free throws, and then Muscatine senior Luke Rauenbuehler scored three straight baskets to put the Muskies up 54-42 with just over a minute remaining.
“That was a great job by Tyler Lloyd to run the floor and Tyler Sanders to get the ball up to him,” Miller said. “That’s exactly what we’re supposed to do in transition. They did it perfectly.”
Coker finally nailed a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in the game to end Washington’s cold spell. But it was too little, too late, and the Muskies (1-1) got their first win of the season.
“It felt great,” said Miller, whose team lost its season opener to Cedar Rapids Prairie 74-48 on Saturday. “It was good to come back from a really tough loss to Prairie.”
Miller, who was making his first career varsity start, poured in six 3-pointers and a career-high 20 points. He sank three shots from beyond the arc in the third quarter, and then put the Muskies ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.
“He only needed about a foot, and he was going to take a shot,” Coker said of Miller. “He was hot. There really wasn’t much we could do defensively.”
“That’s something we needed,” Muscatine head coach Brandon Welsch said of Miller’s outside shooting. “We knew they were going to play some zone, and we knew if we got stagnant or didn’t hit some shots it was going to be a long night for us.”
Rauenbuehler added a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Muskies, and Lloyd finished with 11 points.
Coker had a career-high 14 points to lead Washington.
“He battles in there,” Smeins said of Coker. “He’s a 6-1 kid, and tonight he played the post, he played the wing and he played point guard. We put him in a lot of positions. It’s tough when you’ve got to be the center and the point guard in the same couple of possessions, but I thought he had a nice night.”
Hoffman added 11 points and six rebounds for the Demons, and Roder finished with eight points and eight boards. Sophomore Gage Redlinger contributed six points and six rebounds.
Washington took a 9-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes, but trailed 25-23 at halftime. The Demons had 22 turnovers in the game, 15 of which came in the first half.
“When you turn it over, you lose a chance to get two or three [points] and you give them a chance to get two or three,” Smeins said. “When you do that 15 times, that’s 30 possible points that change hands. We had 30 turnovers on Saturday night [at Pella Christian] and 22 tonight, so that’s an area we’ve obviously got to clean up.”
Coker was optimistic that he and his teammates could fix their mistakes. The Demons open Southeast Conference play on Friday when they travel to Fairfield.
“It stinks to lose, but it’s nice to know that we can improve in areas and then get better from that,” Coker said. “We can only go up from here.”