PITTSBURG — There was no love lost in the matchup between Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern basketball teams on Saturday inside John Lance Arena, where the Gorillas split a pair of games against their MIAA rival with the women winning 86-66 and the men losing 90-76.
GORILLA WOMEN ROLL TO BIG WIN
The Gorilla women had the upper hand in nearly every facet of the game in the win, as they limited the Lions to 37% shooting while building a large lead on the strength of Shelby Lopez’ 18 points and seven rebounds.
“We never really talked about the rivalry the past week,” PSU head coach Lane Lord said. “We just approached it like another game. Our kids understand the rivalry because a lot of them are from around this area. I thought we were very focused mentally and emotionally today.”
After falling behind in the opening minutes, the Gorillas took control with a 9-2 run to go up 13-8 at the three-minute mark of the first quarter.
MSSU narrowed the deficit to two at the end of the first quarter, but Pitt State pulled away in the second by out scoring the Lions 13-4 in the final four minutes of the first half.
The run was highlighted by five points from Shelby Lopez and included four points from Madison Northcutt.
A hot start to the second half saw the Gorillas extend the lead to 51-35 in the opening minutes of the third quarter with help from a 3-pointer by Paige Imhoff.
PSU went on to take a 68-49 advantage into the fourth quarter and let the underclassmen close out the game in the final 10 minutes.
Burgess was second on the team in scoring behind Lopez with 15 points.
Brenlee McPherson and Madison Northcutt also finished in double digits with 13 and 10 points respectively.
GORILLA RALLY COMES UP SHORT
Shots were falling early and often for the MSSU men’s team, shooting 58% from the field and 48% from behind the arc in the 90-76 win.
The Gorillas trailed by double digits for a majority of the contest, but rallied to make it an eight-point deficit with under two minutes remaining in regulation before a pair of three pointers by the Lions in the final minute sealed the win.
“I thought we had a really bad week of preparation,” PSU head coach Kim Anderson said. “I didn’t think that our guys were as focused as they needed to be and that showed. I thought their energy level was great early. We picked up our play in the second half to make it an eight-point ballgame, but we couldn’t come closer. I give our guys credit for continuing to fight, but we’re at the point now where we have to prepare every game like it’s the championship. I’m just not sure we did that this week.”
Missouri Southern jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead in the opening four minutes of the contest and went on to mount a 44-25 advantage with three minutes remaining before halftime.
The Gorillas began to shift the momentum late in the second half, as they trimmed the deficit to 44-33 with eight consecutive points.
Pitt State kept it going with a 3-pointer by Jaxon Holden to begin the second half before narrowing the gap to single digits at 60-52 following a 10-0 run which included five points by Xavier Adams.
Pittsburg continued to stay within striking distance throughout the fourth quarter, but the Lions sealed the win with a 12-4 run down the stretch.
Adams and Franklin finished as the leading scorers with 18 points apiece.
Demetrius Levarity and Jabari Antwine were also in double digits, scoring 13 and 10 points respectively.
The Gorillas will be in Warrensburg, Mo. to take on Central Missouri at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
— 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.