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Morning Sun
  • Newman thwarts PSU men in opener, 80-76

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas led for 22 minutes, 13 seconds of the game and enjoyed the biggest lead of the night at nine points (53-44) but at the end of it all Wednesday night, the Newman Jets claimed a 80-76 victory at Fugate Gymnasium. "I thought our guys, for the most part, played pretty hard," Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff told Eddie Lomshek of KKOW after the game. "We had too many defensive breakdowns in the second half, where I thought even though we gave up [42] at half, I thought we were probably more sound defensively in the first half than we were the second half. Maybe it's because we never really strung any stops together. . . . We didn't reward ourselves for stops or turnovers. That compiles everything and makes everything look worse." The Gorillas were hurt by 23 turnovers and 42 points in the paint by the Jets, who capitalized on those defensive breakdowns. "For the most part, I thought our transition defense wasn't bad tonight," Muff said. "When they do break, they're very good at getting it up and finding the right guy, making the right plays and the right decisions. We're just not good enough defensively. That has a lot to do, I thought our halfcourt defense wasn't very good tonight. I think we spent a lot of time this week working on transition. Muff focused on Newman second-shot opportunities off airballs, for example. Devon Branch led the Gorillas with 20 points (6-for-9 from the floor, 1-1 on 3s and 7-8 at the line) but his future status will be up in the air after Branch was the victim of a flagrant foul by Newman's Elhad Emerllahu. Branch left the court wincing in pain, heavily favoring his left leg. The Gorillas lost two players in one fell swoop on the foul, as Jake Bullard fouled out upon receiving a technical foul for taking a stand against Emerllahu. Bullard had 17 points and his nine points at the start of the second half spurred the Gorillas onto their biggest lead. Junior guard Sam Pugh started his third year in a Pitt State uniform with one of his best all-around college games — 17 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals. Pugh hit four 3-pointers and had a good look at the potential game-tying 3 in the final seconds. "He shot the ball well, stretched the defense out," Muff said. "I thought the last look he got was a great look and a great shot. Jerrod (Gaston) did a good job of finding him, just didn't happen to go in. I thought he shot the ball extremely well. Gave us some good things defensively. He just reads really well." The rest of the Gorillas, however, produced 22 points — Terrell Eaddy six, Josiah Gustafson five, Alex Williams five, Jerrod Gaston four and Trevor Gregory two. "It's a team game and everybody's got to produce," Muff said. "That's what I was telling them in the locker room. We've got a lot of talent on this team and finding our rhythm to getting guys as productive to the level they're capable of is going to be huge for us. Now, with Devon being questionable, we'll see how that plays out. We're going to have to have some guys step up and really start producing." The Gorillas struggled in the second half at the foul stripe, their 8-15 performance (53.3 percent) a major dip from the 15-17 (88.24 percent) tear of the first half. Pitt State (0-1) returns to action Tuesday against William Jewell, a road contest in Liberty, Mo. The Gorillas make their home debut next weekend in the Pitt State Classic at John Lance Arena, playing Bethany on Friday and Avila on Saturday. JETS 80, GORILLAS 76 PITTSBURG STATE (0-1) — Devon Branch 6-9 7-8 20, Jake Bullard 7-10 3-5 17, Sam Pugh 5-8 3-4 17, Terrell Eaddy 2-6 2-2 6, Josiah Gustafson 2-4 1-2 5, Alex Williams 1-3 3-4 5, Jerrod Gaston 1-6 2-4 4, Trevor Gregory 0-1 2-2 2, Ethan Cordray 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Kjer 0-1 0-0 0, Cody Gafford 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 24-49 23-32 76. NEWMAN (1-1) — Jack Pyle 7-10 2-2 19, Ryan McCarthy 3-10 5-5 13, Jeremy Espinoza 5-10 1-1 12, Elhad Emerllahu 3-9 6-8 12, Landers Riddle 4-8 0-1 8, Perryonte Smith 3-6 0-3 6, Marquis Cuyler 2-5 1-2 5, Kris Obaseki 1-3 1-4 3, Josh Walker 1-2 0-0 2, Trae Beck 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 29-64 16-26 80. Halftime — PSU 44, NEW 42. 3-point goals — PSU 5-15 (Pugh 4-7, Branch 1-1, Gaston 0-3, Cordray 0-1, Kjer 0-1, Gustafson 0-1, Bullard 0-1), NEW 6-18 (Pyle 3-3, McCarthy 2-6, Espinoza 1-3, Riddle 0-2, Smith 0-1, Cuyler 0-1, Beck 0-1, Obaseki 0-1). Rebounds — PSU 38 (Eaddy 7), NEW 31 (four w/4). Assists — PSU 14 (Pugh 5), NEW 21 (Smith 6). Turnovers — PSU 23, NEW 13. Steals — PSU 5 (Pugh 3), NEW 9 (Smith 3). Blocked shots — PSU 2 (Branch, Gregory), NEW 1 (Obaseki). Personal fouls — PSU 25, NEW 24. Technical fouls — Bullard, PSU; Gregory, PSU; TEAM, PSU; Cuyler, NEW; Emerllahu, NEW. Fouled out — Bullard, PSU; Gregory, PSU; Emerllahu, NEW. A — 623.
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