PITTSBURG — Both of the Pittsburg State basketball teams started the season with a pair of wins over the weekend, as the Gorilla men took down Minnesota State 90-80 and St. Cloud State 72-62 at home while the women’s team earned a pair of wins over Concordia 80-61 and MInnesota State 84-60 in Kansas City.
PITT STATE MEN EARN TWO WINS AT HOME
Pittsburg State followed up Friday’s win with a 72-62 win over St. Could State on Saturday.
Following a hot start by the Gorillas, St. Could fought back to take the lead in the second half, but a late scoring outburst by PSU was enough to hang on for the win.
“It feels really good,” PSU head coach Kim Anderson said. “We were able to beat two good teams who I think will go on to have good seasons. We played well and picked each other up. Plus, our bench provided a lot of help for us tonight and that is important for us.”
Donovan Franklin got the Gorillas going with a 3-pointer to begin the contest, en route to scoring five of the first nine points to give PSU a 9-3 lead shortly after the opening tip.
St. Cloud came back to within four points of the lead, but the Gorillas pulled away with 12 unanswered points to go up 24-10.
The 12-0 run began with a layup by Xavier Adams and included a pair of 3-pointers from Demetrius Levarity.
Pitt State went on to take a 33-21 into the locker room at the break, following two 3-pointers by Jaxon Holden at the end of the first half.
“I thought we attacked really well early,” Anderson said. “To be honest, we should have been ahead by more. We had them on their heels and I thought we had the opportunity to maybe get a bigger lead than what we had, but we got a little sloppy and careless. But for the most part, our defense was really good.”
Momentum shifted after halftime, as the Huskies outscored the Gorillas 22-8 en route to taking a lead 43-41 lead at the 15-minute mark of the second half.
The Gorillas rallied to regain the lead at 52-43 with 11 minutes remaining in the contest after scoring 11 consecutive points.
The 11-0 run was highlighted by six points from Adams and included a 3-pointer by Jabari Antwine.
St. Cloud State went on to narrow the deficit to one at 62-61, but the Gorillas held on for the win, outscoring the Huskies 10-1 down the stretch.
“We were having trouble guarding them,” Anderson said. “[Jon] Averkamp is a really good player and tough to guard. We didn’t want to double team him because they have really good shooters he could have kicked it out to, so that was one thing that bothered us in addition to getting a little sloppy on offense. I knew they would come back because they’re a good team, but we fought off the run and were able to build a little bit of a lead ourselves.”
Adams led the Gorillas in scoring with 19 to go along with three assists and a steal, while his teammates Franklin and Levarity scored 14 and 13 points respectively.
In the season opener on Friday, the Gorillas extended a two-point lead at the half by outscoring the Mavericks by 10 in the second half to earn a 90-80 victory.
The Mavericks built a 13-point lead in the opening five minutes of the first half, but an 11-0 run by the Gorillas brought them back to within two at 31-29 at the six-minute mark.
Franklin poured in five of Pitt State’s 11 unanswered points and Grant Lozoya chipped in four points of his own.
The Gorillas went on to tie the game at 34-all on a jumper by Holden and took their first lead of the game on a free throw by Lozoya.
The score was tied at 38-38 with the clock winding down in the first half, when Antwine put the Gorillas ahead by two at the end of the half with a layup.
A layup by Deitrich Cole broke a 44-44 tie in the early going of the second half and sparked a 6-0 run by the Gorillas to give them a 50-44 lead.
A 3-pointer by Carter Asche cut the deficit in half for the Mavericks, but the Gorillas began to pull away on the strength of a 17-2 run.
The run began with a bucket by Adams and included a pair of 3-pointers by Franklin.
Pitt State went on to keep Minnesota State at bay in the closing minutes of the game to seal the win.
Franklin caught fire and tallied 30 points, three assists and nine rebounds.
Lozoya contributed 15 points, four steals and two assists.
PITT STATE WOMEN GET TWO ROAD VICTORIES
The Pittsburg State women’s team continued its winning ways with a pair of victories over Concordia 80-61 and Minnesota State 84-60 to begin the season.
The Gorillas began the season with a big win on Friday, as they outscored the Golden Bears 44-26 in the second half en route to earning the win.
MIkaela Burgess and Madison Northcutt both had a big hand in the win, contributing 19 points apiece.
Paige Imhoff contributed 11 points with four steals and three rebounds.
PSU followed it up with a 84-60 win over Minnesota State on Saturday.
The Gorillas outscored the Mavericks 23-13 in the first quarter and went on to extend the lead to 18 by halftime.
Burgess led Pitt State in scoring with 15 along with three assists and two rebounds.
Shelby Lopez contributed 14 points with five rebounds and a steal.
The PSU men’s team will host Haskell at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, while the women’s team will travel to Warrensburg, Mo. to take on Arkansas-Fort Smith at 4 p.m. on Saturday before a matchup with William Jewell at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.