Men survive late Baker rally

Michael Bauer | Sports Reporter

Rico Pierrevilus dominated the first half with 18 points and the Pittsburg State Gorillas pulled away in the second half to avoid an upset in an 88-67 victory over the Baker Wildcats on Tuesday, Nov.

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At times the Gorillas looked sloppy; at other times they looked promising.
Pierrevilus went 7-8 on total field goals and made two 3-pointers to finish with 20 points, most of them coming in the first half.

Junior, JaVon McGee, hangs briefly after successfully dunking his first ball of the season.

Junior, JaVon McGee, hangs briefly after successfully dunking his first ball of the season.

“I was really focused and pumped up,” Pierrevilus said. “I was coming in wanting to bring it in for the team and show up and that’s what I did.”
After six possession changes following tip-off, the Gorillas finally made the first bucket with an inside jumper by Pierrevilus. Baker’s Todd Elis scored an early free throw but it would take six minutes until the Wildcats finally made an inside shot with a layup by Ben Steinlage.
Pitt State may have been in cruise control for most of the game, but at times, communication problems hurt the Gorillas and allowed the Wildcats to climb back.
“We were letting the other team make some points,” Pierrevilus said. “It was high scoring when it should have been lower on their end. We should’ve made better defensive communication.”
Both teams struggled to keep possession. Pitt State had 16 turnovers while Baker had 20.
The Wildcats struggled to shoot in the first half, making only 28 percent of their field goals. In the second half, they started making shots, finishing with 36 percent and they made a killing from the free-throw line, going 19-22. Corey Anderson and E.J. Carter led Baker with 12 points each.
That’s not to say the Gorillas were perfect, as they shot 45 percent in the game.
“There were times where we were rushed and took some early shots,” said Kevin Muff, head coach. “We gave Baker an opportunity to crawl back in it. Then we go on a another run and then we allowed them back in it.”
Pitt State never trailed, but the Wildcats never went away either. An inside jumper by Anderson followed by a free-throw cut the deficit to seven points with 7:23 left in the game. But A.J. Adams answered immediately with a slam-dunk that triggered a 9-0 run by the Gorillas, ending any chance for an upset.
“We just knew we had to pick it up,” Pierrevilus said while describing their narrow 7-point lead. “As soon as we took a timeout, coach told us to focus and we went back to our pressure defense.”
A slam-dunk by JaVon McGee resulted in a technical foul for hanging on to the rim too long. The technical sent Corey to the line where he made two of three, making the score 74-61 with 4:01 left in the game. Coincidentally, two minutes later, a similar situation occurred on the other end of the court with a dunk by Carter. However, no call was given, much to the chagrin of the home fans. But it did not affect the outcome.
Muff says that at times his team played like it did in practice and at other times it was not as forceful as it needed to be.
“I thought we played good offensively,” Muff said. “But I thought some of my players weren’t very good with the ball. There were some good things to take from it, but obviously a lot of work to go.”
The Gorillas now turn their attention to the Chris Tucker Classic in Joplin, Mo. They will play Lincoln University at noon Friday, Nov. 16. Pitt State will then face Avila University at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.

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