Pitt State Men’s Basketball fell into a pair of road games this past week. The Gorillas started the road trip with a loss at the undefeated and second ranked NW Missouri St. and followed up with an overtime loss at Missouri Western.
On Thursday, the Gorillas travelled to Maryville for a game that would prove to be tough on the court with the Bearcats of NW Missouri downing the Gorillas (111- 83).
“This was a game where we didn’t play great,” said head coach Kim Anderson. “But I do think that Northwest is a really good basketball team. I think they’ll be number one in the country next week (because) I know Bellarmine lost this week, and I think deservedly so.”
The game was never close as Northwest lead the entirety of the game. The Bearcat offense was unstoppable including 18 threes on 37 attempts as they raced out to as much as a 35-point lead.
“I think when you play a team like Northwest you’ve got to pick your poison and you’ve got to try and guard the three or try to keep them from scoring two’s,” Anderson said. “We were unsuccessful at both, but we wanted to try and keep them from getting a lot of three-point shots and in the meantime, you’ve got to try and control their guards and we weren’t able to do that.”
Senior Donovan Franklin lead the squad with 21 points and eight boards in the contest. As a team, the Gorillas turned the ball over 18 times for a new season high against the Bearcat defense.
“I give them credit, they’re a very well-rounded team that shoots the ball extremely well,” Anderson said. “All their starters shot the ball above 50% and above 40% from three, they haven’t lost yet and hopefully we learned something from this game for when we have to play teams like this and hopefully, we get a chance at some point to play them again”
The Gorillas followed the loss with a trip north of Kansas City to St. Joseph for a date with the house of Gryffindor. It was a tight game with Pitt making a heroic late game comeback to force overtime before faltering in the extra time and losing (95-87).
“We hung in there,” Anderson said. “We got behind in the first half and where able to battle back and get it to eight at the half and then I thought came out in the second half ready to play and got the score back close and they were able to get the game tied and get it to overtime.”
Coach Anderson was quick to praise his guys after the pair combined for 23 points and 12 rebounds inside with Junior Christian Edmondson also adding five blocked shots.
“We like to get the ball inside early and kind of see how the teams are going to guard us,” Anderson said. “What we can do. I thought in the past few games Christian and Trenton have really done a good job and so we need to go in there more and try to get our big guys involved even more, not only on the scoring end but also on the rebounding end.”
The biggest news out of the game, however, was the injury of one of the team’s leaders, Donovan Franklin. Franklin suffered a sprained MCL early in the second half and is day-to-day in his recovery. After his exit, it was up to the rest of the team to step up.
“I thought Grant increased his game even more, but I thought our bench guys did a pretty good job,” Anderson said. “We couldn’t hit some key shots when we needed to, but I really thought our defense got better in the last five to 10 minutes, especially down the stretch we really played well.”
Senior Grant Lozoya accepted the challenge to the tune of 35 points and six rebounds as he attempted to will the Gorillas to a win.
The losses dropped Pitt down to fifth in the conference race, at seven and five in league, as well as 14 and seven overall. The team will return home for the final three home games of the season including home contests each of the next two Saturdays.