Upset against ESU, 84-76
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pittsburg State Gorilla men had finally ended its seven-game losing streak with a 84-76 victory against the Emporia State Hornets at John Lance Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
“It feels good. We’re still alive: a wins a win, and we’ll take it,” Bullard said.
Bullard led the scoring, finishing with 24 points, while junior Devon Branch had 19.
For PSU (8-17, 4-14 in MIAA), the victory, coupled with Missouri Western’s loss to Central Missouri keeps the Gorillas’ hopes of playing in next week’s MIAA tournament alive. Pitt State is second-to-last behind Missouri Western, but if PSU wins on Saturday, March 1, and Western losses to Southwest Baptist, Pitt State will make the final spot in the tournament.
But as far as PSU is concerned, it’s treating these last two games like the tournament has already begun.
“If we lose, we’re done,” said Kevin Muff, head coach.
Junior Sam Pugh played his first game since being sidelined with a head injury.
“It feels good to be back,” Pugh said. “It felt good to get a win.”
The Gorillas shot 80 percent from the line while the Hornets were 63 percent. Pitt State shot 48.3 percent on field goals and ESU shot 43.3.
In three-pointers the Gorillas shot 37.5 percent while the Hornets shot 43.8 percent. ESU slightly out-rebounded PSU 36-35.
The Gorillas took an 18-17 lead before the Hornets cruised in front for the majority of the first half.
A lay-up by Branch closed the gap to 36-34 but Josh Pedersen of Emporia used a tip-off to put ESU ahead 38-34 at halftime.
Bullard hit an inside jumper in the second half putting PSU in the lead followed by two shots from the line making the score 44-41 PSU with 17:00 remaining.
After a travel was called on freshman Josiah Gustafson, the Hornets took the lead. Bullard responded with a slam-dunk to put the Gorillas back on top, and junior Alex Williams hit a lay-up after a defensive rebound from freshman Trevor Gregory.
“Trevor had a great game and did a good job of guarding inside,” Muff said.
A 4-0 run by PSU put it ahead by seven with 7:24 on the clock.
At 4:58 Emporia trailed by one but the Gorillas managed to keep the lead.
“We put them on the foul line,” Muff said. “We switched to a zone, and they kept missing.”
The Gorillas will face the Washburn Ichabods in another do-or-die game for the regular season finale on Saturday, March 1, at John Lance Arena.
“We’re taking one game at a time,” Pugh said. “As far as we’re concerned, we still have five games to go.”