Men end losing streak with a win over Northeastern State
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Gorillas can now breathe a sigh of relief.
After dropping four straight, the Pittsburg State men’s basketball team got its first win since Jan. 11 with a 73-63 victory over the Northeastern State Riverhawks. The win came on the last of a three-consecutive home game stand at John Lance Arena.
With both teams entering the night with a 1-4 record in their previous five games, the Gorillas (7-10, 3-7) came out with a win while the Riverhawks’ losing skid was extended to four.
“This is a good team. They’ve been sort of like us, being in a funk,” said Kevin Muff, head coach. “One team was going to end its losing streak and the other was going to continue its streak tonight and we wanted to be the ones to end the streak.”
Junior Devon Branch led the Gorillas with 23 points while shooting 6-6 from the free-throw line. Bullard put up 16.
PSU shot 44.2 percent and was 76 percent on free throws.
Bryton Hobbs, who finished with 18 points, powered the Riverhawks.
Dalen Qualls finished with 16 and Curtis Evans had 23.
Freshman Trevor Gregory’s 2-point jumper put PSU up 21-19 before the Riverhawks responded with a 3-pointer by Qualls to get ahead with 8:53 in a closely contested first half.
“I thought Trevor had a great energy level,” Muff said. “All of our freshmen played well.”
Gregory finished the night with eight points.
Gregory picked up his first personal while defending in the paint, a call that was met to the outrage of the fans, where Landon Demasters went 1-2 from the line.
Branch connected with Bullard for a 3-pointer and the Gorillas went back on top. It marked the start of a 10-0 run by Bullard.
Branch’s 13 first-half points helped the Gorillas to a 42-32 lead at intermission.
A 3-pointer by Curtis Evans triggered a 9-4 run by the Riverhawks in the first six minutes of the second half.
Numerous times in the second half, the Gorillas jumped ahead by seven but the Riverhawks had a response for nearly every PSU basket.
After Kjer scored his ninth point of the night with a three with 5:05 left, the Gorillas were back to leading by seven.
Driving into the paint for a lay-up and picking up a foul, Branch fell hard onto the floor and was slow getting up, forcing him out of the game while Gregory completed play with 2:22 left and the Gorillas up by 10.
Kjer was PSU’s leading re-bounder with 10.
“Connor can’t jump higher than most of the guys on this team but he plays hard,” Muff said. “He had 10 rebounds tonight. I’ll take that level of mentality from him. There’s 10 games left. We have time to get things going.”