HAYS — Early-season struggles continue for the Pittsburg State basketball teams, as both the women and men fell to Fort Hays on Saturday, losing 75-70 and 77-74 respectively.
TIGERS TAKE DOWN GORILLAS
The Pittsburg State women’s team was tagged with its second consecutive loss after falling to Fort Hays State 75-70 in the first game of the day.
A back-and-forth affair swung in favor of the Tigers, who took control of the contest late in the third quarter and held on for the win in the fourth.
The Tigers hit the scoreboard in the opening minute of the first quarter to take a two-point lead, but a jumper by Madison Northcutt and a 3-pointer from Paige Imhoff put the Gorillas in front 5-2.
Seven consecutive points for the Tigers in the closing minute of the first quarter put them ahead 17-14, but a 3-pointer by Mikaela Burgess at the end of the quarter tied the game at 17-all.
Fort Hays jumped out in front 23-17 by scoring the first six points of the second quarter and held the lead until the five-minute mark when the Gorillas went on a 13-4 run.
The Gorillas’ run was highlighted by five points from Imhoff and gave them a 35-33 advantage at halftime.
FHSU regained the lead with a pair of quick buckets to begin the second half, but a 7-1 run by PSU put the Gorillas ahead 42-38.
Both teams continued to go back and forth until the Tigers took a seven-point lead on the strength of a 9-0 run, which started at the end of the third quarter and extended into the first minute of the fourth.
Burgess went on to score all 10 points of a 10-4 run by the Gorillas which cut the deficit to two points with 45 seconds remaining in regulation, but the Tigers stayed true at the line in the end to protect the lead and earn the win.
Burgess had the hot hand for Pitt State, totalling 24 points in her 38 minutes on the floor.
Williams also had a good outing with 11 points and two rebounds.
GORILLA MEN FALL SHORT AGAINST TIGERS
The Gorilla men also found it rough sailing against Fort Hays, losing 77-74 in a game which came down to the final few possessions.
A double-digit lead for Pitt State in the early going of the first half dwindled down to a two-point advantage at the half, before the Tigers took the lead and the momentum with an 11-3 run in the second half and held on to earn the win.
Pitt State started hot out of the gate — outscoring FHSU 9-2 in the opening possessions — and increased the lead to 20-8 on the strength of an 11-2 run.
Demetrius Levarity had a lot to do with the quick start, pouring in 11 points in the first eight minutes of the contest.
Fort Hays got back into the game by outscoring PSU 14-2 in the next three minutes to tie the score at 22-all, but an 8-2 run by the Gorillas put them back on top 32-28 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Pitt State went on to take a 40-38 advantage into the locker room at halftime and increased it to an eight-point margin after scoring the first six points of the second half, with points coming from Xavier Adams, Grant Lozoya and Donovan Franklin.
The Tigers got back into the scoring column with a pair of points at the 18-minute mark, en route to climbing back to take the lead at 52-50 with 13 minutes remaining in regulation.
A pair of free throws by Adams and a 3-pointer by Mar’Qywell Jackson gave the Gorillas the lead for a moment, but an 11-3 run by the Tigers put them back on top 65-60 with under six minutes left in the second half.
Fort Hays managed to keep the Gorillas at bay in the closing minutes, putting the game away with two free throws in the final seconds.
Adams led the Gorillas in scoring, posting 22 points with eight rebounds and one assist.
Lozoya was right behind him with 20 points, five assists and three rebounds.
Pitt State will host Lindenwood on Thursday, with the women scheduled to tip-off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.
— 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.