ESU hoops prepares for rivalry games against Washburn

EMPORIA (KSNT) – “We look at every game like it’s the National Championship game,” said Emporia State senior guard Kelly Moten. “We’re going to play tough and play hard for 40 minutes.”

The Emporia State Lady Hornets are ranked 2nd in the nation and are fresh off an 8-point win against Pitt State in a battle of top-five teams.

“It’s a very special group that we have in that locker room. Everyone has a roll on this team and we’re going to do it to the best of our abilities,” said Moten.

Moten has been named the MIAA’s Player of the Week three times already this season. She’s second in the league in scoring, averaging nearly 18 points per game, including a 27-point outburst against the Gorillas.

“She’s probably the best player that I’ve ever coached as a head coach,” said Emporia State head coach Jory Collins. “We’ve had some good ones the last five, six, seven years. And we’ve had a bunch of good ones before that. But a lot of people have a specialty and are really good at something, and she’s really good at a lot of things.”

“He gives me that drive to keep pushing and knowing that I can make every play and knowing that not many people can guard me,” said Moten.

With the women posting a (12-1) record so far this season, it’s a tough act for the men to follow each night. But with a rivalry atmosphere expected at White Auditorium on Saturday night, you can count on a pair of great college basketball games this weekend.

“There’s a lot of anticipation watching the girls play before us because we can hear it from the locker room,” said Emporia State senior forward Josh Pedersen. “They definitely build that atmosphere a lot. They get the fans going for us, so it’s our job to follow up on that.”

The Hornets have lost the last three games against the Ichabods, a series which dates back to World War II. And Saturday’s 208th all-time meeting will be as important as the very first one.

“They’re (Washburn) is (2-2) in league play, we’re (2-2) in league play,” said Emporia State head coach Shaun Vandiver. “It’s the most important game of the year and it’s an added incentive with everything going on with Washburn coach Bob Chipman closing in on 800 wins. It’s the last time he’s coming to Emporia.”

Chipman currently sits at 798 victories in his final season with the Ichaobds, but the ESU men’s team has rattled off three wins in its last four games and seems to be pushing all the right buttons heading into the Turnpike Tussle.

“The biggest thing you try to do when you’re playing well is to treat your team like they’re throwing a no-hitter,” said Vandiver. “You really don’t want to screw it up and get in the way. It never hurts when you play Washburn. It’s a great rivalry and it’s going to be a great atmosphere on Saturday.”

The women’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m. and the men follow at 7:30 p.m. inside White Auditorium in Emporia on Saturday.

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