PITTSBURG — No. 1 Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball’s firepower was too much for Pittsburg State, as the Bearcats cruised to a 90-64 win Thursday at John Lance Arena.
NWMS (24-0, 15-0 MIAA) opened the game with an 11-3 run before pushing the lead to nearly 20 points by the intermission after shooting 58 percent in the first half as a team while not turning the ball over once. Northwest Missouri didn’t slow down in the second half, pushing to lead to as much as 32 points on the way to the win.
“Obviously, they are a good team,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff said. “They know where the ball needs to get to … I thought we did an OK job in the first half of answering their initial run, but then they go on that 20-5 run to end the first half and got separation … Tonight was a tale of our inability to guard them.”
The Bearcats shot 60 percent (34-56) from the field and made 11-of-22 3-pointers.
Chris-Ebou Ndow led all NWMS scorers with 19 points, adding five rebounds in the win.
D’Vante Mosby scored 16, with Ryan Welty making four triples on the way to a 15-point effort.
Justin Pitts added 12 points, a game-high seven assists and four rebounds for the Bearcats.
Pitt State shot 45 percent (21-46) in the loss, finishing with three players in double figures.
Miles Harrison came off the bench to lead the Gorilla men with 21 points on 6-of-7 shooting, knocking down 8-of-10 from the stripe.
“He played well. He took what they gave them and took advantage of it,” Muff said. “He did a good job of getting to the free-throw line when the driving lanes weren’t there because he was aggressive and assertive … It was nice to see him step up and have a good game.”
Christian Edmondson added 12 points and three rebounds.
“He’s coming. You can see him take steps,” Muff said of Edmondson’s development. “Christian is one of those kids who is going to be a really good post player and a great MIAA player. He just needs to continue to grow.”
Isaiah Hicks finished with 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds for PSU in the loss.
NWMS had the clear advantage in the turnover battle, losing the ball five times compared to Pitt State’s 16.
Ndow opened the game with back-to-back 3-balls before Pitt State struck with a 3-pointer from Hicks.
Six unanswered by the Bearcats pushed the lead to eight, which was stretched to 10 for the first time on an Anthony Woods score inside near the 11-minute mark to make the score 21-11.
Brandon Clifford scored six straight for PSU at the midway point to cut the lead to 23-19, but the Bearcats closed out the first half with a 20-5 run to go up 43-24 at the break.
Mosby scored seven straight points for the Bearcats to kick off the game-changing run, connecting twice from the field and knocking down an additional three shots from the stripe to make the score 30-19.
Pitt State cut the lead to single digits on the next trip down the floor, with Edmondson scoring a strong take inside, but another seven unanswered by NWMS put the margin at 16 points, 37-21, with 2:55 on the clock.
Pitts had a 3-pointer to start, which was followed by field goals from Edow and Mosby.
Following a three-point play from Edmondson, Northwest Missouri scored the final six points of the first half to take a commanding lead.
The Bearcats poured it on early in the second half, knocking down four 3-pointers — two from Ebou, and one each from Pitts and Welty — in the first five minutes to stretch the lead to 59-33.
Northwest Missouri pushed the lead to 30 on a Mosby drive in the midst of a 7-0 run to make the score 69-37 with 12:24 on the clock.
The Bearcats didn’t commit their first turnover of the game until the 11:11 mark.
Pitt State hosts Missouri Western at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at John Lance Arena.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.