• Gorilla men advance, 74-55

    Michael Bauer, Sports Editor

    The Pittsburg State men’s basketball team used an early 15-2 run in the first half and then a 13-5 run halfway through the second half to build a 19-point lead and eventually a 74-55 win over the fourth-seeded Lindenwood Lions in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. on Thursday, Mar. 5.
    In a game in which they never trailed, the Gorillas (18-11 overall, 12-7 in the MIAA) shot 56 percent form the floor and were 15-18 on free throws.
    Lindenwood (17-12, 12-7) was held to just 19-54 on field goals for 35.2 percent and were only 9-16 on free throws.
    Senior Devon Branch led the Gorillas in scoring with 16 points including four free throws.
    Sophomore Trevor Gregory and freshman Dakota Jones each finished with 13 points while junior Trey Starks had 11 points and was a perfect 4-4 from the line.
    Junior Javis Flynn may have only scored one point but had six rebounds-all of which came on defense as well as two steals.
    “I thought defensively we were very good tonight,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff said. “Probably the most efficient teams in our conference and we did a good job of controlling shooters, making them have to work. I think the rebounding margin was even but I thought we did a good job of limiting second shot opportunities. We did a nice job defensively. It all starts up top with Javis (Flynn) and Dakota (Jones).
    The Lions were powered by Cory Arentsen who had 20 points from 6-14 shooting and was 5-6 from the line. He had 10 total rebounds, grabbing seven on defense and three on offense. Chanse Creekmur had 10 points and six rebounds while Darris Smith scored seven and had five assists.
    Two defensive rebounds by Gustafson and three inside jumpers by Gregory helped the Gorillas to an 8-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
    Through the first eight minutes of the game, the Lions shot only 9.1 percent. The Gorillas took a 15-2 advantage after a 3-pointer by Jones and a turnaround jumper by Branch.
    “Offensively we were pretty efficient,” Muff said. “We did a good job of finding lane gaps. Every time they made a run, we had an answer.”
    It wasn’t until the 10:59 mark when Lindenwood broke their scoring drought with a 3-pointer by LJ McInctosh.
    It was the start of an 11-3 run for the Lions.
    Cory Arentsen scored the Lions’ second outside shot and followed it up with a transition basket off a turnover by junior Flynn and after a Darris Smith jumper, Lindenwood only trailed by eight.
    “It’s a game of runs,” Muff said. “They made runs and we were able to make runs back. you always want momentum heading into halftime.”
    A steal by Flynn from Sam Mader led to a layup by Starks to take an 11-point lead. Junior Lamine Dieng’s second basket of the day came from a dunk and the Gorillas led 28-18 with 5:23 in the first half.
    With 49 seconds before halftime, Branch converted a three-point play and Pitt State led 34-25 at intermission.
    “Coming out and establishing it (the run) that was big,” Muff said. “I told them at halftime that if you watch enough college basketball you know that you will make a run back at you. How you handle it and I think we did a good job of responding. You want to come out and establish yourself because that’s in the back of their mind the rest of the game.”
    Lindenwood began the second half on an 8-0 run after a layup by Sam Mader and a free throw by Arentsen. Garrett Reeg entered the game and drove inside the paint for a layup and the Lions only trailed by one with 16:46 left in the game.
    Jones scored the Gorillas’ first basket of the second half from three-point land with 16:17 on the clock.
    Dieng scored off a fast-break dunk after a Flynn defensive rebound from a Nick Van Osdale 3-pointer miss to give the Gorillas a 47-38 lead.
    The Lions managed to cut the lead to five but PSU kept responding as Dieng added a layup and Branch converted two charities to make it 51-43 with 9:14 remaining.
    A missed jumper by Arentsen was rebounded by Jones and Starks shot from an eight-foot jumper to give the Gorillas another nine-point lead. Gregory soon made it 10-points after drawing a foul by Creekmur.
    Gustafson’s turnaround jumper made it 60-48 and the Lions took a timeout with 5:48 on the clock.
    The Lions struggled to find an answer. A missed 3-pointer by Creekmur was rebounded by the Gorillas and Jones shot a floater on the ensuing possession to cap a 13-5 run.
    “We established our will in the defensive game and we struggled to score a little bit but Devon (Branch) stepped up and had a couple of baskets and it just helps us when we can defend like that and get a run,” Flynn said.
    Another Lindenwood possession came up empty as Michael Boss’s outside attempt clunked off the side iron and into the hands of Flynn with the Gorillas ahead 65-49 with under three minutes left.
    “It started with our defense,” Gustafson said. “We held them to a lot of tough shots and we limited them to one shot and we got the break. That’s what coach has talked to us all year, when we get a defensive stop, it helps our offense during the game.”
    For PSU, it was sweet revenge from their first meeting with Lindenwood in January when the Lions won 69-65 in St. Charles, Mo.
    “It’s a nice revenge but they’re a good team they made runs but we made runs back and ended up finishing it out,” Gustafson said.
    The Lions entered the game losing four of their last six. PSU had lost three of their last four but were fresh off a motivating 69-54 win over Northeastern State from Monday.
    “We definitely needed to play on Monday after the let down we had the previous couple of games of the season,” Gustafson said. “It just gave us a chance to work on what we hadn’t been doing well offensively and defensively and gave us the confidence coming into the tournament. It was like one more practice to make sure we were ready for the tournament.”
    With the win, PSU advances to the semi finals against number one seeded Northwest Missouri State (23-5, 15-4). The Gorillas beat the Bearcats in their last meeting, 69-67 in December but the Bearcats have since won the MIAA conference regular season title and are fresh off a 71-61 win over Washburn in the quarterfinals.
    “This is one of the best teams in the league,” Muff said. “It opens up the door for us to play the conference champions Northwest Missouri. I’m excited and I know that our guys will be. Tonight, you saw a team that after Monday, there were a lot of people questioning, asking what are we going to show? What are we going to do? But it’s made up of a unique individual group. There’s no superstar per see in this group. But we have different guys on different nights that do a good job of steeping up. Javis, Dakota and Lamine stepped up the other night. Picking each other up and not getting too high or low allows this team to be really good. I’ll continue to challenge these guys and push them. They’re very competitive but I don’t think they’re done. We’ll find out on Saturday but I think they’ve got more in them.”
    The game will tip off at 12 p.m. on Saturday at Municipal Auditorium.

  • Jeronimus, Gafford, Brugman earn All-MIAA Honors

    | Michael Bauer Sports Editor |

    Senior Lizzy Jeronimus, and juniors Cathy Brugman and Kylie Gafford received All-MIAA honors for the 2014-15 season.
    For the fourth year in a row Jeronimus was named to the All-MIAA First Team after leading the Gorilla women’s basketball team in scoring with 571 points (averaging 19 points per game). She is also third in the league.
    Jeronimus is first on the team and ninth in the league in rebounding with 204, as well as second in the league in free-throw shooting by percentage with 86 percent.
    Gafford was named to the All-MIAA Third Team, putting up 317 points (10.6 per game) and led the team in blocks with 50. She was fourth in the league in blocked shots.
    Brugman was named to the Honorable Mention All-MIAA team. She was third on the team in scoring with 277 (averaging 9.2 points per game). Brugman was also second on the team in blocks with 42 and was an 81.3 percent free-throw shooter.
    All three players helped PSU to a 25-5 (15-4 in MIAA) record and a third seed at the MIAA Tournament.
    Fort Hays State’s Kate Lehman was named the Player of the Year after finishing second in the league in scoring with 19.2 points per game and leading the league in field goals percentage and offensive rebounds. She helped the Tigers to a 26-2 (18-1) record and the MIAA regular season title.

  • Muff, three PSU players earn all-conference honors

    | Michael Bauer Sports Editor |

    Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff, men’s basketball head coach, was named as the MIAA Men’s Basketball Co-Coach of the Year.
    The announcement was made Monday, March 2.
    His peers selected Muff after leading the Gorillas to a 16-11 overall record and fifth place finish in the MIAA regular season.
    At the start of this year’s season the Gorillas were picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll.
    After last year’s 8-18 overall record and 4-15 showing in conference, Pitt State has made quite a turnaround.
    This year PSU has shared the lead at the top of the conference standings at different points. Despite starting the season off 1-4, Pitt State soon turned things around and defeated eventual conference regular season champions Northwest Missouri State at home, 69-67 in December and a month later recorded their largest win over Washburn, winning 82-40.
    Muff shares the honor with NWMSU’s Ben McCollum.
    In addition to Muff’s honors, the Gorillas had three players earn All-Conference honors.
    Sophomore Josiah Gustafson was named to first-team All-MIAA. He led the Gorillas with 16.4 points per game and was fifth in the MIAA in scoring. Gustafson was also eighth in the MIAA in 3-pointer percentage with 44 percent.
    Senior Devon Branch was named to third-team All-MIAA after putting up 14.7 points per game. Branch is also ninth in the MIAA in shooting percentage and scored double figures in all but four games this season. He scored 20 points or more in four games. This is the second year in a row that Branch has earned All-Conference honors.
    Junior Javis Flynn was named to the MIAA All-Defensive team along with Mike Wallace of NWMSU, TJ White of Central Missouri, Greg Renfroe of Missouri Southern and Preston Brunz of Central Missouri.
    Flynn has compiled 94 defensive rebounds as well as 2.9 turnovers per game and 2.2 steals per game. On offense, he has averaged 6.3 points per game and has a free throw percentage of 69 percent.

  • PSU women overcome 16-point deficit in 77-68 win

    | Michael Bauer sports editor |

    Trailing by 16 points in the first half, the women’s basketball team erased its deficit to nab a 77-68 win over the Washburn Ichabods to close out the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 28, in Topeka.
    PSU improved to 25-5 overall and 15-4 in the MIAA. It ended a two-game losing skid.
    “We have had such a great year,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said in an interview with KKOW. “We had a really sour taste in our mouths after the last two games. We really needed to win this game for our psyche.”
    PSU went on a 17-4 run at the start of the second half and took its first lead since the 15:04 mark in the first half.
    “We really needed to have the energy,” Lord said. “We came out in the second half and it was a whole different team. It was Pitt State basketball again and I knew we were in for a great finish because of the great energy.”
    With the win, the Gorillas not only grabbed their first victory at Washburn (16-11, 8-11) since 2001 but also secured the third seed in the MIAA Tournament.
    “In the eight years I have been here, we have taken some serious beatings in this gym,” Lord said. “(This win) just feels really good … I couldn’t be more proud of our seniors and our group.”
    Freshman Mikaela Burgess scored 18 second-half points and finished with 21 for the game to lead the Gorillas.
    “I tell you what, Mikaela Burgess was huge for us tonight,” Lord said. “She was feeling it and we let her just play. We never let her come out in the second half.”
    Senior Lizzy Jeronimus had 19, as well as team-high five assists.
    Junior Kylie Gafford scored 16 and hit nine free throws. Senior Antqunita Reed put up 13 points and 10 rebounds.
    Reed’s inside jumper cut Washburn’s lead to 47-38 with 14:41 left in the game.
    PSU shot 40 percent in the first half and was 52 percent from the floor in the second half.
    The Gorillas began the second half with a layup by Jeronimus along with a Burgess 3-pointer. PSU faced only a single digit deficit.
    PSU capitalized off a Washburn missed shot with a 3-pointer by Burgess. Reed followed it with a layup to make it a 4-point game.
    “We felt just like we did against Emporia the other night,” Lord said. “We stopped their main scorers. It was all of their other players that really stepped up. We felt like they haven’t been asked to be scorers for a whole game. We felt like at 12 points down we were fine. We wanted to come out of the locker room and continue with the game plan to make those other players beat us.”
    The Ichabods shot 42.4 percent on field goals and were 15.4 percent on 3-pointers.
    Honor Duball led Washburn with 18 points while Allyssa Nikel put up 12 points and Casyn Buchman scored 11.
    The Gorillas will now face the sixth-seeded Central Oklahoma Bronchos in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament for an 8:15 tip-off time on Friday, March 6, at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
    PSU defeated UCO twice this season, winning 85-55 at home and 68-51 on the road.
    UCO is coming off a 90-70 win over Nebraska-Kearney in the first round from Tuesday night.
    The Gorillas have not advanced past the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament since 2011.
    Fort Hays State earned the No. 1 seed after compiling a 26-2 overall record and an 18-1 showing in the conference. Emporia State took the second seed after going 22-4 (15-4 in MIAA).

  • Men continue reign; women take 3rd

    | Charles A. Ault reporter |

    Once again, the Pittsburg State men’s track team stands at the top of the MIAA conference.
    For the second year in a row, the team has won the MIAA Indoor Conference Championship, held Friday, Feb. 27, through Sunday, March 1, at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo.
    The men opened up the competition on Friday with a stellar performance in the heptathlon.
    Freshman Tanner McNutt and senior Jeff Piepenbrink competed in the seven-part event for the Gorillas and Piepenbrink’s score of 5282 broke his own school record for the event.
    McNutt also won first place in both the 60-meter dash and the long jump, as well as placing second in the high jump and pole vault competitions. Piepenbrink took first place in pole vault and second in the 60-meter hurdles.
    “Both those guys are great for one another, they make each other better,” said Russ Jewett, head coach of the men’s and women’s track teams.
    On Saturday, the men won one event and placed in many others with numerous members of the team qualifying for Sunday’s finals.
    Sophomore Bo Farrow took home the gold in the shot put with a toss of 56-03.75.
    Junior Garrett Appier was right behind Farrow in second with a toss of 55-01.00.
    Freshman Justice Burks was the third Gorilla of the day to place; he managed a clearance of 6-06.00 in the high jump, earning third place.
    Junior Marquise Cushon and sophomore J.L. Savage both placed in the triple jump. Cushon earned third place with a mark of 48-11.oo and Savage took sixth with 4-02.25.
    In the distance medley, freshmen Alexander Burson and Alex Conn, senior Ryan Ramler and sophomore Andrew Rodgers clocked in at 10.26.31, earning sixth place.
    By Sunday, PSU was in the lead of the competition with 59 points, with UCM behind with 34.
    “We knew based off the prelims that UCM was set up to score a whole bunch of points Sunday in the 400, 600, and 800 so we knew that we were going to have to withstand a barrage of points from them,” Jewett said.
    Senior Keenan Soles was the first to score for the Gorillas, placing fourth in the long jump with a mark of 23-02.75.
    Though he was the defending national champion, Piepenbrink struggled in the pole vault, taking three attempts to clear the opening height. He eventually took third place with a clearance of 16-01.25.
    “That was a big third place,” Jewett said. “He’s a better pole vaulter than that but on that weekend that was what he had. He was spent from competing in the heptathlon.”
    Junior Andre Sanders was also looking for a repeat of his victory last year in the 60-meter hurdles, but ended up in second by .01 seconds. Emporia State’s Andrew Ethridge took first with a time of 7.99.
    Freshman Justice Burks also competed in the 60-meter hurdles and placed third with a time of 8.08.
    With three events remaining, PSU was down 108-107 to UCM.
    Senior Jason Crow was ranked in fifth going into the finals of the 200-meter, but he turned out having a silver medal in his pocket as he finished with a time of 21.83, putting the Gorillas up 115-108 with the final event to go: the 4-by-440 relay.
    “It was for him almost the perfect race,” said Jewett. “It was a huge lift to our team and we really needed it there. Jason kind of turned the tide for us there.”
    Seniors Marquel Nickens, Crow, Ramler and freshman Aren Martin took first in their heat, sending PSU to the finals with a final finish in fourth place.
    Those points earned, coupled with a fumbled handoff by Central Missouri, secured first place for the Gorillas with 120 points.
    “It was a four-team, neck-and-neck battle the whole time,” Jewett said. “Even though we stumbled and struggled a few times, the character of this team is ‘no excuses’ and to never give up and they certainly fulfilled that.”
    Back to Friday and the women’s side of the competition, the Gorillas opened yet again with the pentathlon.
    Sophomore Emilyn Dearman took the bronze for the event, after second-place finishes in the 800 y and high jump events. She also took fourth place in the shot put, seventh in the 60-meter hurdles and ninth in the long jump.
    Saturday, the Gorilla women also won first in a single event: the 5,000-meter.
    Senior Jessica Macy ran the race of her life, clocking in at 17:17.90, ten seconds ahead of the second-place runner.
    “That wasn’t a superfast time but it was a hard-fought battle. She was comfortable there and it was not a very hard victory for her,” Jewett said.
    Sophomore Amira Jenkins took silver in the triple jump with her hop, skip, and jump of 40-00.00, while sophomore Megan Wickersham took third in pole vault with a clearance of 11-07.75.
    Junior Cassie Caswell took third in the weight throw with a heave of 60-06.75 and junior Darien Stancell took sixth with a toss of 55-04.25.
    Junior Hannah DeVries completed the 5,000-meter run alongside Macy, taking fourth place.
    Rounding out the day’s events was the distance medley, composed of freshmen Carlin Greene, Sarah Jewett, Paige Denton and sophomore Olivia Boone. The women finished with a time of 12:45.19 for fifth place.
    On the final day of the championship, Pitt State was sandwiched between Central Missouri and Missouri Southern State.
    A fourth-place finish in the high jump by freshman Emilee Iverson and a silver finish by freshman Jasmine Smith in the shot put helped advance the Gorillas.
    Smith’s performance in her event also set a new personal best record of 46-01.50.
    Caswell, a consistent placer for PSU throughout the season, did not record a toss as she scratched all three attempts.
    “Jasmine didn’t let (Caswell’s scratches) affect her negatively,” Jewett said. “These women are resilient. If one of them has an off event, another one picks it up and that’s what happened there.”
    Dearman placed again in the 600 y with a time of 1:25.34, earning her second.
    Denton placed third in the mile with a time of 5:22.25 and Sarah Jewett took fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:19.73.
    In the 3,000-meter, Macy entered as the second best competitor. She led the entire race until she was passed by Missouri Southern’s Kaitlyn Belisle with two laps to go. In the last 30 meters of the race, Macy managed to edge Belisle out by .20 seconds to bring home the gold for the second time. She finished with a time of 9:53.12.
    Devries also competed in the 3,000-meter race and took sixth.
    “That was a very tough race for her,” Jewett said. “She had to lead from start to finish. She set the tone early and won the race the hard way. It was super exciting.”
    With one event left, PSU trailed MSSU by one point.
    Freshman Courtney Nelson, sophomores Boone and Dearman and junior Jonelle Reinert clocked in a race of 3:59.43, taking sixth place and ahead of Missouri Southern. However, the sixth-place finish was not quite strong enough to overcome the team standings.
    The Pitt State women earned third place with 92 points. The University of Central Missouri took first place with 159 points and Lincoln took second with 142.
    “We really fought hard for third place, I was really proud of the ladies,” said Jewett.
    The indoor season will conclude with the DII Indoor National Championship on Friday, March 3, through Saturday, March 14, in Birmingham, Ala.
    The outdoor season will begin Saturday, March 28, at home.

  • Men fend off NSU, face LU in MIAA

    | Michael Bauer sports editor |

    After losing its last three regular-season games and the bye-round of the MIAA Tournament, the Gorilla men’s basketball team recovered triumphantly against the RiverHawks of Northeastern State University on Monday, March 2, at John Lance Arena.
    Pitt State entered the competition as a fifth seed.

    Javis Flynn try to lay up the shoot on Monday, Mar 2.

    Javis Flynn try to lay up the shoot on Monday, Mar 2.

    The Gorillas outscored the RiverHawks 22-11 in the final six minutes of the game, expanding to a 4-point lead, which led to a 15-point win.
    With the victory, Pitt State advances to the quarterfinals.
    “I think they are pretty excited,” said Kevin Muff, head coach. “This is what we wanted. We made the tournament and then we wanted to get to Kansas City. As we reassessed our goals … one of the things was to win the conference tournament and we took one step toward that tonight.”
    Senior Devon Branch and junior Trey Starks led the team in points, each with 13.
    Branch was also 4-5 on field goals and 5-6 on free throws.
    “I thought the most complete game was by Devon,” Muff said. “Both ends of the floor, he was really good. It was good to see him just stay engaged for a whole game. He didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. He was positive both ways and I thought he did a really nice job.”
    Starks also had great game stats, going 4-6 on the floor and 5-8 on free throws.
    Sophomore Josiah Gustafson put up 11 points and had two assists and two steals.
    Freshman Dakota Jones finished the night with 10 points from 3-8 shooting while junior Javis Flynn had eight points.
    As a team, the Gorillas shot 45.7 percent.
    The RiverHawks were led by Demone Harrison, who scored 13 points, going 5-10 shooting and 3-6 from beyond the arc.
    Montre’ Williams put up 10 from 3-5 shooting and was 3-4 from the line. Keon Littleton finished with seven points and had six defensive rebounds.
    NSU shot 41.3 percent from the floor.
    Both teams kept it close for much of the game.
    PSU led 29-28 at the half, but it was the remaining six minutes of the game that had the crowd on its feet as the Gorillas used offensive rebounds to their advantage.
    “It was just a matter of being aggressive,” Muff said. “If you just stand there and watch, not a lot of good things are going to happen.”
    As well as ending Pitt State’s three-game losing streak, the victory against Northeastern was the third for PSU of the season.
    The Gorillas will next take on the Lions of Lindenwood, who enter with the second-ranked defense in MIAA, as well as second in free throws with an average of 66.1 points per game.
    For much of the season the Lions were on top of MIAA standings, winning eight of their first 10 conference games.
    “I am just excited to play Lindenwood again,” Muff said. “After we lost to them earlier in the year, I told our guys that we are going to play them again … a month and a half ago I was saying that and now it’s true. We’ll be ready for them.”

  • Girls drop back to back

    | Cameron Molina reporter |

    It was a shocking home loss during the State Farm Trophy Series on Saturday, Feb. 21.
    The Lions of Missouri Southern prowled into John Lance arena looking to spoil the then ranked 7th Gorillas, on their senior night no less, and the Lions’ hope soon turned into a reality, sadly for Pitt State.

    The game had a slow pace.
    Missouri Southern scored off the tip to take a 2-0 lead. Neither PSU or MSSU allotted much ground, though.
    Senior Antqunita Reed (15 points) hit both free throws after a foul 30 seconds into the game.
    Senior Hailey Roderique then ended a two-minute drought with a lay-up off of a steal. The Gorillas did what they could to keep the lead, but the Lions were quick to knock in a three and keep the lead.
    Junio Kylie Gafford was fouled and managed to shoot 1-2 at the charity stripe, tying the game at 18. After an offensive rebound, Cathy Brugman put up her first shot of the night for two. The Gorillas were now up by three with 1:51 remaining in the first half, a golden position to have momentum for the rest of the game.
    But the Lions wouldn’t hear of it and MSSU made a 3-pointer with five seconds left, entering the half with a 29-27 lead.
    Missouri Southern continued to burnish its lead, which quickly shot ahead by eight.
    Seniors Lizzy Jeronimus, Morgan Westhoff and Reed then walked onto the court to kick up some momentum for Pitt State.
    Jeronimus (15 points) dropped a 3-pointer and shot two free throws, forcing the Lions to take a timeout and regroup.
    Jeronimus and her fellow seniors continued to give it all they could and managed to regain a well-earned lead with three minutes left in the game.
    Westhoff (6 points) added a pair of free throws to put the Gorillas ahead by two. A Senior Night win was in sight, but the Lions decided to take that pride away. MSSU shot two quick baskets. However, with 20 seconds left on the clock, Jeronimus soared inside the lane for a layup and sent the game into overtime.
    In overtime, the Lions immediately took the lead. 3-pointers and free throws continued to rain down on the John Lance Arena court, and an above-average shooting night for MSSU led to a Gorilla defeat with the final score 72-68.
    There was no time to sulk, though, as the Gorilla women hopped aboard the team bus to take on the Emporia State Hornets, ranked 12th in the nation.
    PSU attempted to channel its Saturday night loss into determination to defeat ESU however the Hornets came out “White hot,” according to Eddie Lomshek’s play-by-play commentary on KKOW 860 AM.
    Emporia shot 14 for 20 from the field, making six of its seven free throw shots. The Hornets were also 100 percent from 3-point land.
    Midway through the first half ESU led by 12 points, Jeronimus lead the charge and continued to etch her name into MIAA history, moving up to third in all-time scoring. Thanks to Jeronimus and sophomore Hadyn Herlocker, Pitt State went into halftime down by six.
    In the second half the Gorillas fought back against the Hornets with everything they had.
    Jeronimus scored five straight points and Westhoff added a few shots of her own.
    Emporia continued to fend off Pitt State, but with eight minutes left in the game PSU closed the lead by two points.
    However, it wasn’t enough.
    A scoreless two minutes stretch was disrupted when ESU put the final nail in the coffin: two free throws with nine seconds left. The final score: 62-58.
    With this loss, PSU is now third in the conference.
    The Gorillas will next take on the Washburn Ichabods on Saturday, Feb. 28.

    PSU women seniors get traditional send off

    | Michael Bauer Sports Editor |

    For Pitt State’s five seniors, Saturday night’s match-up against Missouri Southern State was not the final home game they desired.
    Seniors Brigit Hesser, Lizzy Jeronimus, Antqunita Reed, Hailey Roderique and Morgan Westhoff, a group responsible for helping the Gorillas win the school’s first NCAA Tournament game and PSU’s first Elite Eight appearance in 2012, were honored on the court with their families for Senior Night, Saturday, Feb. 21, but the women’s final home game of the season turned into an overtime nightmare with Pitt State losing to Missouri Southern 72-68.

    The seniors of the Pittsburg State University women's basketball team pose for a picture with the pictures they recieved on senior night at The Weede, Saturday, Jan. 20.

    The seniors of the Pittsburg State University women’s basketball team pose for a picture with the pictures they recieved on senior night at The Weede, Saturday, Jan. 20.

    Though it is not the end of the world for the seniors, with one regular season game remaining and a spot reserved for the MIAA Basketball Tournament, the loss was disheartening.
    Pitt State’s record stood at 24-4 and 14-3 in conference play before Saturday’s defeat. The only affect the loss could have on the regular season is the conference championship, a race in which PSU, Fort Hays State and Emporia State have been in the run for.
    Jeronimus, who surpassed the University’s all-time scoring record, says she and her teammates would recover from the loss to MSSU.
    “I think if anything this loss will help us because we’re all pretty mad about it,” she said.
    Jeronimus scored a total of 15 points during Saturday night’s game. After struggling in the first half, she scored her first and only 3-pointer of the game with 6:33 left in play and Missouri Southern ahead by eight.
    “(Lizzy’s 3-pointer) was huge because she had struggled and it was big for her to get that monkey off her back,” said Lane Lord, head coach. “It gave us a chance to win the game.”
    The Gorillas had a chance to overthrow the Lions in overtime, but ultimately were defeated.
    “We felt pretty good (in overtime),” Lord said. “We had some good looks, but it was all my fault. We went into the isolation game and we should’ve ran offense and got the ball inside more. We went into one-on-one and that’s on me, that’s not on the players.”
    The Gorillas finished 21-59 on shooting and 5-19 on 3-pointers. They were 21-28 from the free throw line. The Lions shot 24-60 on field goals and 7-17 on free throws. They were 17-22 from the stripe.
    For some of the seniors, the loss stung but being honored in front of John Lance Arena’s 2,542 spectators, the largest crowd of the semester brightened the mood.
    “It was really humbling to have everyone still cheer for us,” Jeronimus said. “We just have to forget the loss and just celebrate Senior Day because that loss doesn’t define our career.”
    Antqunita Reed, who transferred from Florida last year, had 15 points and six rebounds against the Lions while blocking two shots and recording two steals. She had a defensive rebound that resulted in a coast-to-coast basket to bring the Gorillas to within one point with under a minute remaining in overtime. She scored the final basket Gorillas with 1.9 seconds but by that point, the game was out of reach.
    Reed’s game was affected after hurting her foot and was taken out of the game. She returned to the floor later on but said her foot was still bothering her a little bit.
    “I’ll be ok come next week,” she said.
    With MSSU behind them, the PSU women look to avenge the loss when they face nationally ranked ESU Wednesday, Feb. 25.
    “We have Emporia coming up next and we want them because they beat us in our place,” Morgan Westhoff said. “We’ve got to forget this loss and get back out there next week and get ready.”

  • Gorilla men fall to ESU 74-67

    | Michael Bauer Sports Editor |

    Pitt State’s chance for a regular season conference championship evaporated on Wednesday night, Feb. 25, in the Gorillas’ 74-67 loss to the Emporia State Hornets.
    With both teams entering the tip-off in need of a win; PSU to finish top of the MIAA and ESU to keep its hopes of playing in the conference tournament, it was a nail-biter of a game.
    While Emporia State is ranked 13th in shooting in MIAA, it certainly didn’t feel that way. The Hornets shot 59.5 percent from the field and went 25-42. In outside shots, they were 63.6 percent.
    The Gorillas were 44 percent from the field, going 22-49 and shot 21.4 percent outside, going 3-14 on 3-pointers.

    Devon Branch, senior, dunks the ball during the game between Pittsburg State University and Missouri Southern State University at John Lance Arena on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

    Devon Branch, senior, dunks the ball during the game between Pittsburg State University and Missouri Southern State University at John Lance Arena on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

    Senior Devon Branch led Pitt State in scoring with 26 points. He had three steals and three rebounds, was 9-15 on field goals and was the only Gorilla to make double figures in points.
    Juniors Trey Starks and Javis Flynn both shot eight points while junior Denton Hays and sophomore Josiah Gustafson each shot six.
    “It was bad both ways,” said Kevin Muff, head coach. “Give ESU credit, this is two games in a row now where we let the opposing team attack us. We need to change some things up defensively. We’re taking it and not doing anything to stop it.”
    In the first half of the game the Gorillas turned over the ball five times and the Hornets quickly caught up to make the game 7-7 with 14:34 left. Then ESU went on an eight-point run to increase its lead 12-7.
    PSU reclaimed the lead, thanks to a Flynn 3-pointer with 8:23 left and Gustafson followed it up with a tip-in off an offensive rebound. However, ESU responded and the game went to half in its favor, 33-31.
    The second half was just as close.
    The Hornets came out stinging with a 13-7 run and by the final 10 minutes, Emporia State was up by nine.
    Hays made two crucial free throws to bring Pitt State up to a two-point deficit, but a few seconds later Flynn was called for a defensive foul. After the Hornets added another point to the board, there was not room left for error.
    Unfortunately, Starks turned the ball over…the 16th turnover of the evening.
    With 1:03 left in regulation play, Emporia’s Perryonte Smith stole the ball from Branch and made a layup for the Hornets. Flynn got the ball back and shot for three, but missed his jumper with 31 seconds left.
    “I don’t think we matched them,” Muff said. “I’m trying to get them to play with more emotion. That should be the players and not from the coaches 26 games into the season. I told the guys that you have to be putting yourself in a position to get into the national tournament which we’re good enough to do.”
    The Gorillas (16-11, 12-7 in the MIAA) now sit in fourth place.
    To get a first round bye in the MIAA tournament, the Gorillas must beat Washburn on Saturday, Feb. 28, or at least hope that Nebraska-Kearney loses one of their last two games.

  • Making memories

    | Gretchen Burns reporter |

    Gorilla Nation got a bit more ‘family-ier’ during the university’s annual Family Night at the Pitt State basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 12.
    While PSU took on the University of Nebraska-Kearney on the court, families took in the thrill of the game and some fun during the Alumni Center hosted event.

    Kindergartener Zoey Howard wins a pink bike in a raffle at family night that took place at the Weede during the women and men's basketball games Thursday, Feb. 12.

    Kindergartener Zoey Howard wins a pink bike in a raffle at family night that took place at the Weede during the women and men’s basketball games Thursday, Feb. 12.

    “Every year we try to do better than the year before,” said Jon Bartlow, director of the Alumni Center. “We worked with both the athletics department and Sodexo to make it better than last year.”
    To increase family attendance, fliers were sent to area elementary schools so pupils could take them home to their parents. A ticket covered the cost of the game and a meal.
    In conjunction with the university, Craw-Kan became a sponsor of Family Night this year as well and provided a boys and a girls bike and an iPad Mini, the three prizes ticket purchasers were eligible to win.
    Children were also invited to help make cheer signs for the Gorillas behind the student section.
    “The majority of people who come to Family Night are alumni,” Bartlow said. “We wanted to change that.”
    Overall, 191 tickets were purchased.
    Rusty Flack says he was grateful the university was reaching out to the community to attend the games, especially the elementary school pupils.
    “This is really awesome for the kids,” said Flack, whose daughter Rhian, participated in the event. “It’s just really nice to see everyone get out there and see the interaction between the university and our elementary schools.”
    Rhian says she was excited to attend the collegiate game and watch the Gorillas play.
    “My favorite part about this is watching the Gorillas kick the other team’s butt,” she said.
    The first prize was given away during the women’s halftime show and Zoey Howard was the lucky winner of the girl’s hot-pink bike.
    “I’m going to wait a while to ride it,” she said. “I’m super excited to get a new bike. I can’t wait to tell all of my friends.”
    Zack Howard, Zoey’s father, was also excited that his daughter had won.
    “It’s pretty cool that the school and Craw-Kan worked together to bring out these prizes for the kids,” Zack said. “The school has created such a good event with the community. It would be nice to see more events like this.”
    Mona Spencer says she bought tickets to Family Night so she could take her granddaughters to the games.
    “My daughter and her family live in Pitt and it’s nice to come for Family Night and it gives us something to do,” Spencer said. “My husband and daughter both graduated from Pitt and my husband is in the Hall of Fame from here.”

  • Track finishes strong at OBU

    | Charles A. Ault reporter |

    The men’s track team walked away with four first-place victories when they and the women’s team competed at the Oklahoma Baptist University Invitational on Saturday, Feb.14, in Norman, Okla.
    Sophomore Bryce Starks placed first in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.87 and junior Andre Sanders took first in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking in at 8.01.
    In the pole vault, senior Jeff Piepenbrink took first, clearing 16-2.75 and sophomore Bo Farrow won the shot put with his 54-8.25 toss.
    All four performances exceeded NCAA DII national provisional qualification standards.
    Freshman Alex Conn also placed in his event. Conn finished the mile race with a time of 4:23.43 behind Missouri S&T’s Trenton Morris.
    Junior Garrett Cantrell also took second in the weight throw with a toss of 54-2 and senior Jason Crow placed second in the 200 in 22.15.
    Senior Marquel Nickens took third in the 400-meter run, clocking in at 50.21.
    Junior Marquise Cushon finished third in the triple jump in a tough field with his hop, skip and jump of 47-11.75. His performance was enough to meet provisional qualifying standards.
    Freshman Justice Burks also met provisional qualifying standards with his time of 8.13 on the 60-meter hurdles and Burks placed sixth in the high jump with a clearance of 6-7.00.
    The Gorillas’ 4×220 relay team placed third, clocking in at 1:32.56.
    Other team members to place included sophomore Preston Coffman in the pole vault, junior Garrett Appier in the shot put and the 4×440 relay team.
    The Gorilla women placed first in three events with freshman Kezia Martin and sophomore Amira Jenkins both setting personal best records in the triple jump.
    Martin took first place with a time of 40-0.75 and Jenkins placed second with 39-3.25. Both athletes qualified for NCAA.
    Junior Cassie Caswell also dominated her competitors in throwing events, taking first place in shot put with 48-9, more than 5 feet farther than the second-place toss. Caswell also finished first in the weight toss with a heave of 58-1, 4 feet farther than second place.
    Freshman Sarah Jewett took third for Pitt State in the 800-meter with a time of 2:19.44 and the 4×440 relay team came in fourth with a time of 4:06.o1.
    Other Gorillas to place included sophomore Megan Wickersham in the pole vault and freshman Courtney Nelson in the 60-meter hurdles.
    The men’s and women’s teams will wrap up the regular indoor season at the Nebraska Tune-up meet on Friday, Feb. 20.
    Pitt State will also travel to Warrensburg, Mo., for the MIAA conference Indoor Championship, which starts Friday, Feb. 27, and will continue through Sunday, March 1. This year the championship is hosted by the University of Central Missouri.

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