San Antonio bound
Gorillas continue historic run
GARETT MCCULLOUGH | Sports Editor
Lizzy Jeronimus earned the tournament’s most valuable player award and led Pittsburg State University to a 79-67 vic- tory over Emporia State Univer- sity in Topeka. Jeronimus had
a 35-point, 10-rebound perfor- mance Monday, March 12, in the South Central Regional Finals.
“Jeronimus is a great player,” head coach Lane Lord said. “She makes every one of our players better. We wanted her to touch the ball every time down the floor.”
Her performance helped the Gorillas overcome a slow start and extended their record-setting season as PSU now prepares for a trip to the Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas. Jeronimus’ 35-point single game perfor- mance is tied for fourth all-time in Gorilla history. Sunny York holds the record with a 39-point game back in 1978.
Although the game ended with PSU on top, the first half was a different story. ESU came out firing, shooting seven threes in the first 11 minutes of the game. The Hornets hit all but two of them to roll to a 26-19 lead. The Hornets cooled off toward the end of the first half, but came away with the 32-31 lead heading into the locker room. ESU ended the half with 6-13 shooting from behind the arc. However, the Hornets made only three of its 11 shots from inside the three-point line.
Jocelyn Cummings came into this game after scoring a career- high 27 points in the second- round game against Washburn. However, she was benched four minutes into the game because of foul trouble. She ended the half with four points. Heather Robben led the Hornets with nine points, including two three-pointers.
Jeronimus answered the shooting performance of the Hornets by scoring 14 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, pulling the Goril- las within two. After Jeronimus pulled the Gorillas close, both teams went on a three-minute scoring drought before Kathryn Flott drilled her second three-pointer of the game.
“If anything, I’m a huge decoy for her,” Drew Roberts said. “I’ll play that role if we can win.”
PSU started the second half with a 12-0 run and took its first lead of the game 15 seconds into the second half. Jeronimus and Alexa Bordewick combined for the half’s first 10 points followed by a Roberts jumper that gave the Gorillas a 43-32 lead three minutes into the second half.
“Those first four minutes in the second half made the difference in the game,” Lord said. “I thought Alexa did a great job taking it to the rack.”
Flott tried to stop the bleeding for the Hornets with seven points and a block on a Jeronimus layup attempt. She helped pull the Hornets back within five with 5:30 left to go in the game before Jeronimus asserted her will once again, answering the run with two free throws. Jeronimus had 29
points at this point in the game while Bordewick had rebounded from being shut out in the first half to scoring 12 heading into the final minutes of the game.
“First of all, I put my hair in a bun,” Bordewick said. “That means business.”
The bun did the trick as she finished the game with 15 points, all of them in the second half.
With 2:41 left in the game, ESU head coach Jory Collins was forced to take a timeout after the Goril- las pushed the lead back to 10 points. From that point on, the Hornets had little trouble scoring, but they could not stop the Gorillas’ offensive attack. ESU answered every Gorilla score, but that was not
going to be enough as the Gorillas headed into the final minute with a 77-65 lead. The Gorillas went 7-10 from the line in the last two minutes to seal the 79-67 victory.
To go along with Jeronimus’ MVP award, Roberts was also honored as an All-Tournament First-Team selection, due in large part to her perfor- mances in the first two rounds.
The Gorillas will play the Shaw University Bears (25-6) of Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, March 20 in San Antonio, Texas. The second-seeded Bears were unranked but managed to knock off No. 3 Edinboro University in its Region’s Finals for the chance to play in the Elite Eight.
Jeronimus scored 19 of PSU’s 31 first-half points and only four other Gorillas scored in the first half. Brooke Conley led the rest of the pack with five points, but that doesn’t matter on a team where winning comes first.