PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State basketball teams picked up a pair of wins on Saturday against Lincoln, as the women came out on top 69-47 and the men won 77-66.
GORILLA WOMEN RELY ON DEFENSE TO EARN WIN
The Pitt State women’s team set the tone in game one, winning 69-47 on the strength of solid defense.
Despite struggling to find the range on offense, the Gorillas relied on their defense down the stretch, holding the Blue Tigers to two points in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
“Tonight was one of those nights where the shots weren’t falling, but we were playing well defensively,” PSU head coach Lane Lord said. “We were able to build a big lead at halftime and closed it out in the fourth quarter. Credit the win to the defense in this one. Holding a league opponent to 47 points was a great job by our defense. Sometimes the shots aren’t going to fall and you have to rely on your defense. We had some great shooters get some open looks, but they just weren’t going down.”
The Gorillas trailed by one point two minutes into the contest, but a 12-0 run put them back out in front 18-5 by the end of the first quarter.
The run was highlighted by seven points from Brenlee McPherson and included a 3-pointer by Paige Imhoff and a layup from Madison Northcutt.
Shelby Lopez got Pitt State going with a 3-pointer to begin the second quarter, which increase the lead to 21-5.
Lincoln went on to outscore PSU 9-4 in the next four minutes, but the Gorillas regained control with seven unanswered points before ending the first half with a 7-2 run.
A slow-paced start to the second half saw the Blue Tigers come back to within 11 at 56-47, but a 3-pointer by Lopez increased Pitt State’s lead to 57-45 at the end of the third quarter.
The Gorillas began to pull away in the fourth quarter, scoring eight unanswered points in the opening minutes to increase the lead to 20 at 65-45 before coasting for the win.
McPherson was the leading the scorer for Pitt State, pouring in 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and one block.
Burgess also had a big hand in the win, contributing 13 points.
GORILLA MEN HANG ON AFTER LATE RALLY
The Pitt State men’s team followed up with its first conference victory of the season, winning 77-66.
Lincoln trailed by as many as 21 points in the early going of the third quarter and pulled to within seven late in the second half, but the Gorillas held on with a 9-3 run in the final two minutes of the game.
“We started off a little slow and I thought we were settling for too many 3-pointers,” PSU head coach Kim Anderson said. “When you settle for too many 3-point shots and you don’t make them, it doesn’t look very good. But, we started to get to the basket and got some easy buckets. Plus, our defense was much better tonight. I was proud of the way we handled it.”
The Blue Lions outscored PSU 19-13 in the opening minutes of the first half, but the Gorillas came back to tie at the score 19-apiece following back-to-back 3-pointers from Donovan Franklin and Mar’Qywell Jackson.
Pitt State went on to take the lead at 32-25 with two minutes remaining in the first half on the strength of 10 consecutive points.
The 10-0 run was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Franklin and Jaxon Holden.
The Lions broke the scoring drought with a 3-pointer of their own and took a 36-30 deficit into the locker room at halftime.
Pitt State took its largest lead of the game at 52-36 following a 14-2 run to begin the second half.
The run was highlighted by five points from Grant Lozoya and included four points by Xavier Adams.
Lincoln fought back into the contest by outscoring the Gorillas 24-8 to come back to within 10 points of the lead at 65-55 with two minutes left in the game.
A layup by Demetrius Levarity got Pitt State back on track, as it marked the beginning of a 9-3 by the Gorillas to close out the game.
Franklin was PSU’s leading scorer with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and one steal.
The Gorilla women will hit the road to take on Arkansas-Fort Smith at 3 p.m. on Monday before the men’s team take on Baptist Bible College at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Pittsburg.
— 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.