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Four Gorillas reach double digits, take down rival Lions
Tyler Smith | reporter
The Pitt State men’s basketball team ended a two-game losing streak on Wednesday, Feb. 27 with a nail-biter against MIAA conference rival, Missouri Southern State University.
PSU won the game 94-91, and managed to survive a huge 59-point second half from the Missouri Southern Lions with the help of a 49-point first half of its own. The Gorillas were up by as many as 19 points in the first half and were never behind at any point in the game.
Missouri Southern climbed within one point late in the second half before Pitt State’s Kaleb Porter made a layup and drew the foul in the process, which resulted in a three-point play to put the Gorillas back up by four.
The Lions went on the attack and got to within one point, thanks to a three-pointer by sophomore Cornelius Cameron with 8.9 seconds left in the second half. Ultimately, the Lions couldn’t find a way to secure the win with Pitt State’s Denton Hays putting the nail in the coffin with his two free throws.
Kaleb Porter says the team was just happy to get the win after a couple hard losses on the road.
“I mean, it’s a good win for us because its a rivalry game, we always look forward to a win,” Porter said. “We had a hard practice, we prepared for it; we just got it done.”
Kevin Muff, head coach, says that his team’s defensive skills were what helped the team come out with the victory.
“I thought we did a really good job in the first half defensively, probably the best 20 minutes of defense we have played all year,” Muff said. “We really took Southern out of what they wanted to do.”
Next up for the Gorillas is their last home game of the regular season. They will take on the Emporia State Hornets in John Lance Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Lions upset Gorillas on Pink Night
Garett McCullough | sports editor
The Pittsburg State Gorillas made the possibility of a first-round bye even more difficult with a 62-57 loss to the Lions of Missouri Southern State University on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
The Gorillas were never able to take control of this game, as they didduring their five-game winning streak. During that streak, the Gorillas had dominated each of their opponents throughout the first half and only needed to cruise through the second half, but in this game only led by as much as four points in the first half and went ended the half down 25-23.
“They were more aggressive, more physical,” said Lane Lord, head coach. “They wanted it really bad and they really took it to us, we had trouble really getting into any offensive flow and that had to do with their physicality. Give all the credit to the Missouri Southern.”
There was one bright spot in the first half for the Gorillas, though, as junior shooting guard Alexa Bordewick continued her high-efficiency shooting. She went 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from three-point land.
In the second half, the Gorillas looked to be gaining momentum, stretching their lead to five points early, but the Lions roared back, keeping things close right down to the end of the game.
With the time on the game clock waning, the game came down to free throws. The Lions stepped up at the line, hitting eight of their final 10 free throws. All of those free throws came inside the 2:01 mark of the second half.
The free throws sealed the game, but the Lions won the game long before that. MSSU dominated the Gorillas on the glass, pulling down 48 rebounds to the Gorillas’ 33. Of those 48, 17 were offensive.
“On the defensive end we just didn’t box-out,” said sophomore forward Lizzy Jeronimous. “They had, what, 16 offensive rebounds or 17, so second chance points; that’s what killed us.”
With one game remaining before the MIAA Tournament, the Gorilla women would need a win and a Truman State loss for the Gorillas to even have a shot at a first-round bye.
“It comes down to the mental focus and being ready in the warmups,” said senior guard Drew Roberts. “I think we’re good where we are at. Just sometimes, I think you have those games where you aren’t focused and we weren’t [tonight].”
Hoops hopes: PSU women set sights on MIAA championship
Tyler Smith | reporter
As the season comes to a close, the Pitt State women’s basketball team has had quite a ride throughout this year.
With a few bumps along the way, the Gorillas have put together a five-game win streak heading into their last two games of the regular season against Missouri Southern and Emporia State University.
Playing their last two games at home, the Gorillas look to avoid having to compete in a play-to-get-in Playing their last two games at home, the Gorillas look to avoid having to compete in a play-in game by closing out the season with two wins, which would be enough to get the team a bye going into the MIAA tournament.
“Well, we have been playing our best basketball here at the end of the year and hopefully we can continue that and show our home fans how much better we have gotten,” Head Coach Lane Lord said. “We’ve had a great fan base, our community always supports us and we play well at home.”
Speaking on whether he is nervous about making the tournament with a first-round bye, Lord doesn’t seem fazed.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “If you’re fifth you can still win the national title. That is just how tough the league is.”
On the new play-in system this season, Lord says it is still important to get those big wins to put yourself in position for the bye and get his team the rest it needs.
“With 12 teams, you really want to finish in the top four,” Lord said. “So you have a bye and you’re already in Kansas City for the tournament.”
The rest is needed in part, because the team has only nine active players on the roster, due to injuries.
“I think we’ve had some major injuries this year, lost some key players,” Lord said. “Hopefully we get two back during the MIAA tournament, but as a whole I think we’re playing our best basketball right now.”
After beating highly ranked teams such as Northeastern State, Emporia State, Southwest Baptist and Central Oklahoma, the Gorillas can still compete with the best of them.
“We’ve won five in a row. We have beaten Truman State, who’s ahead of us in the league,” Lord said. “Northeastern, Emporia State, these are all pretty good basketball teams.”
Among the biggest stories heading into the MIAA tournament is the second player, next to men’s senior forward JaVon McGee, to score 1,000 points this year. Drew Roberts, who is the second all-time leading three-point shooter in Pitt State history, earned her landmark score on a three-pointer against Central Oklahoma.
“Well, there are only 16 players who ever scored 1,000 points at Pitt State,” Lord said. “She is just a mentally tough kid, and I’m really proud of her to get that 1,000th point.”
With only a few games left, the Gorillas look to rekindle the magic they experienced last season, which saw them go all the way to the Elite Eight Tournament.
“Our kids are excited about making a run at the end of the year,” Lord said. “We did it a year ago and we got a lot of those people back and we’ll see what happens.”