Down in round 2
Gorillas tame Lions; fall to No. 1 Bearcats
Tyler Smith Sports Writer
The women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the MIAA conference tournament this past weekend with a big win in overtime against longtime rival Missouri Southern on Friday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
The 61-57 win over Southern was an emotional one, after the Gorillas played their last four games without assistant coach Tisharria Huggins, who died last month in a car accident. And as they did for the remainder of the regular season, the Gorillas sported warm-up shirts with the initials T.H. in memory of Huggins before the games started, and came out with an intensity that was missing in last season’s first-round loss.
And although the Gorillas would fall to Northwest Missouri in the semi-final round 84-76, they fought hard against the top-seeded and eventual champion Bearcat team that featured the MIAA’s Player of the Year Gabby Curtis and three all-tournament performers.
After the Bearcats’ win over the Gorillas, Northwest head coach Gene Steinmeyer said that he planned to rely on his stars from the beginning of the game, and for good reason. All five of Northwest’s starters scored in double digits, as Shelly Martin had a game-high 22 points while Gabby Curtis recorded 18 points of her own. Gentry Dietz, Kyla Roehrig and Abby Henry all had 13 points as well.
“This was a day for our starters, really,” Steinmeyer said during the post-game conference. “Shelly (Martin) got some good looks today and she didn’t miss, and that’s the Shelly Martin we’ve seen all year.”
Martin, who was light-out from the floor and 6-7 from long range, also seemed happy with her performance when questioned at the post-game press conference.
“Yeah, it felt really good, I didn’t think I would shoot that well,” she said. “My teammates got me some nice wide-open looks and, fortunately, I knocked them down.”
The Gorillas trailed by as much as 16 points at the 14:29-minute mark of the second half. The Bearcats were building a nice lead and seemed to be cruising to another tournament victory.
The Gorillas had other plans, though, cutting the lead to single digits for the first time since the 4:20 mark in the first half off of a Drew Roberts jumper. Also adding points to the board, Brooke Conley scored a big three with 5:54 remaining to keep the fans on their feet.
Northwest earned its last double-digit lead with 2:24 remaining and once again seemed to be in control. But the Gorillas weren’t ready to give up, cutting the lead back to only five with a 7-2 run, finishing with a nice jumper from senior Kylee Baldetti with only 27 seconds left in the game.
After the huge effort by PSU, the game came down to free throws. The Gorillas had to foul and the Bearcats were able to sink all of their shots from the line to hold on for the victory in the waning seconds.
Coming off the bench to help in a big way was junior Brooke Conley, who scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half. Conley and Alexa Bordewick each hit key 3-pointers in the closely contested match to keep the Gorillas in the game. Bordewick finished with 11 points.
In her final game as a Gorilla, senior Laura Glenn scored 12 points against the Bearcats, after a putting up huge numbers in the first round.
PSU reached the semi-finals with Friday’s contest, which was a close one, as well seeing the Gorillas squeak by Missouri Southern in overtime. At the post-game press conference, head coach Lane Lord explained his thoughts on the hard-fought win.
“We knew we had to match their intensity early on,” Lord said. “We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out game and a possession game, so luckily we made a few plays down the stretch.”
Glenn led Pitt State with one of her best performances of the year with a career-high 21 points and 14 rebounds to earn herself a double-double. Richards also came through for the Gorillas, scoring 13 of her 15 points in the second half to help earn the win.
The game was a constant back-and-forth fight between two evenly matched teams that saw the game tied up four times, with two lead changes, in the second half only.
Things didn’t look good for PSU as Jasmine Lovejoy earned many of her game-high 33 points in the second half to help garner the 18-2 run for Missouri Southern, and snapped the Gorillas’ lead. After six minutes of a dominant MSSU run, Alexa Bordewick hit a big three to end the drought, and bring PSU back to within six.
Richards hit a nice layup with just under a minute to play, putting the Gorillas up by two. The lead didn’t last long, however, as Lovejoy once again came through for the Lions and hit the game-tying jumper near the end of regulation.
It was all Pitt State in overtime, with the Gorillas leading for the majority of the final frame for the 61-57 win. After the hard-fought win, the Gorillas faced the eventual winners of the tournament, Northwest Missouri, in the semi-final round.
Pitt State finished the 2010-‘11 season with a 16-12 overall record with four seniors, Kylee Baldetti, Laura Glenn, Marissa Poppe and Bailey Waugh all graduating.