Overtime loss ends men’s season
| Michael Bauer sports editor |
The Pitt State men’s basketball team knew it needed a victory to have a shot at making this week’s MIAA basketball tournament.
PSU fought for its season, but in the end it wasn’t enough as Washburn ended the Gorillas’ season with a 92-90 overtime victory, on senior day, at John Lance Arena on Saturday, March. 1.
A victory against the Ichabods was not only coveted, but needed, along with a victory of the Southwest Baptist Bearcats against Missouri Western Griffons. SBU kept up its end of the bargin with a win, but with PSU’s defeat, none of it mattered.
Pitt State trailed by 76-69 late in regulation before junior Devon Branch scored the Gorillas’ final 12 points, giving PSU a 81-79 lead with less than 10 seconds left.
Then Stephon Drane found his way into the perimeter and scored the tying basket, forcing overtime.
“Not being able to get stops when we needed to, that was the thing we did not do a very good job of,” said Kevin Muff, head coach.
The Gorillas took an 86-83 lead in overtime but could not make the shots needed for a win and the Ichabods came back to take the lead.
“I thought we had great opportunities,” Muff said. “I think the difference was at the end of overtime.”
Branch led the scoring with 34 points. Sophomore Jake Bullard had 12 points and eight assists for the Gorillas.
“It’s very tough,” Bullard said. “Season-ending. I mean, if you go back and do a couple things different, make a couple more shots, it’s tough to end the season like that.”
Junior Connor Kjer finished with 11 points and shot a 3-pointer in overtime. Junior Sam Pugh missed a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left in regulation.
“Both Connor and Sam had wide-open three looks,” Muff said. “You say we don’t let them shoot those. We’ve let them shoot them all year. We encourage them because they’re good 3-point shooters.”
Kjer went 3-8 on 3-pointers while Pugh went 2-5 from beyond the arc.
With all but two players on the PSU squad returning for next year, the Gorillas will now be looking to replace seniors Ethan Cordray and Terrell Eady.
“Terrell and Ethan aren’t going to be easy to replace,” Muff said. “Just because of so much of it is your mentality, your attitude and your work ethic. Both of those kids are just awesome. We’ll miss both of them.”
The Gorillas end the season in 13th place in conference standings with a 7-18 record. The Ichabods finished the regular season with a 17-9 record and will now look to next week’s MIAA Tournament.