Pitt State men’s basketball has been in action over the past month. The team continued to build off it’s hot start going five and two over the seven games played during break.
First was the conclusion of the non-conference schedule with the Gorillas traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Las Vegas Hoopla. Pitt State opened with a big 89-76 win over Indianapolis, a team which had opened the year with an exhibition win at division one Valparaiso. The win came behind a career high in scoring for sophomore Grant Lozoya with 38 points.
Day two produced a loss to the West Texas A&M Buffaloes by a 93-80 count. Lozoya stayed hot with his second straight 30 bomb and senior Donovan Franklin dropped in another 21, the story of the game was a 15-3 run to end the game by the Buffs to close out what was otherwise a tight game against the No. 13-ranked team in the country.
Pitt State returned home for the a final tune-up before conference play with Baker University visiting the Jungle in a 98-61 blowout.
Lozoya put up a pedestrian 25 points in the ballgame including a perfect four for four from beyond the arc. Coach Kim Anderson on the weekly Pitt State Basketball coaches show talked about how impressive Lozoya has been.
“Well, he’s done a great job, he had an off season surgery on his hips and he really worked hard to come back,” said Anderson. “He’s the leading scorer in the conference right now and he’s gonna get a little bit of attention and it’s like I tell him, ‘Hey, those coaches read the stats and they all see that you’re the leading scorer. That’ll be a challenge for him sharing the basketball with other people and he’ll have to work even harder to get his shots.”
Pitt opened up the new year with their first true road test of the season and lost it at Lincoln 96-85. Franklin lead all scorers with 25 and Lozoya chipped in 24. Senior Demetrius Levarity also set a new season high with 17 but it was not enough to overcome the high flying Blue Tiger offense.
“I thought Lincoln did a great job,” Anderson said. “(It’s a) really tough place to play and you know we didn’t play well and they did, but… I was really proud of the way we bounced back Saturday because Lindenwood’s a team that had just beat Missouri Southern by 20 on Thursday and I think that comes down to seniors. I was thrilled to see them bounce back on Saturday.”
That bounce back came in the form of an 85-76 win in St. Louis over the Lindenwood Lions. The key to the game came down to the rebounding and free throws as Pitt had a 10-board advantage on the defensive glass and a 12-point edge at the foul line converting 18-19 shots from the charity stripe.
Pitt State returned home on the ninth for a tussle with the Southwest Baptist Bearcats and would come out on top 87-76. The Gorillas jumped out early and held the Bearcats at arm’s length throughout the game behind Franklin’s 28 points and eight rebounds.
“Baptist, I thought, guarded us well,” Anderson said. “Especially Grant so we never could quite put them away.”
Finally, Saturday afternoon the Gorillas hosted Coach Anderson’s former team, the Central Missouri Mules. Pitt won a 78-69 contest behind Lozoya’s second career double with 23 points and 10 boards. Franklin lead the team in scoring with 25 and Levarity dropped in 13.
The Gorillas are now 12-3 on the year and 5-1 in conference which is good for second place behind #2 NW Missouri and their unblemished 6-0 start. The Gorillas are currently on the road with contests against UCO and Northeastern State before they come home to host Emporia State next Wednesday.