PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State basketball teams closed out the regular season with a split against Central Missouri on Saturday inside John Lance Arena, with the women’s team losing 60-56 and the men’s team winning 74-70.
JONES SCORES CAREER-HIGH 21 POINTS IN GORILLA WIN
Timely 3-pointers by Dakota Jones lifted the Gorillas to a four-point win over the Mules puts them in a tie with Lincoln for eighth place in the MIAA standings.
“I was proud of my guys,” PSU head coach Kim Anderson said. “We fell behind early on and just kind of fell apart. We weren’t doing a good job on defense and we weren’t making shots on the offensive end. I thought the difference in the second half was that we finally picked up the pace and our defense was better. It was a great win and I’m very happy for the seniors.”
The Gorillas went into the locker room at halftime trailing by seven, but rallied back to take the lead early in the second half and held on to win thanks to nine consecutive points by Jones down the stretch.
“It’s a great feeling,” Jones said. “Especially to have a performance like this against my home town. It was a great experience and a great game. There’s still a few things to work on before we take on Lincoln and try to get ourselves in the tournament at Kansas City.”
Pitt State’s rally was led by an 11-2 run which gave them a 57-55 advantage with seven minutes remaining in regulation.
The run was highlighted five points from Donovan Franklin and included four points by Jabari Antwine.
UCM made it a one-point game with a minute left in the game after back-to-back 3-pointers, but Xavier Adams protected the Gorillas’ lead by hitting all of his four free throw attempts in the closing minute.
Jones’ 21 points was matched by Adams, who also had 13 rebounds and four assists.
JENNIES DOWN GORILLAS
A flurry of 3-pointers in the second half lifted Central Missouri to a win in game one of the day.
The Jennies trailed by seven at the end of the first quarter, but rallied back to take the lead on the strength of a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter and five more from deep in the third.
For the game, the Jennies shot 11-for-17 from behind the arc and 46% from the floor.
“They’re the best team in the league, but we feel like we’re pretty good too,” PSU head coach Lane Lord said. “We won 15 of our last 16 games coming into this game and nine in a row. There were stretches throughout the game when we played well and other times when didn’t. A lot of credit goes to Central Missouri for playing great defense. We still battled back and we had a chance late in the game to take the lead, but we turned the ball over and missed a couple shots that typically go in for us.”
Pitt State took control of the contest in the early going and built a 23-16 lead near the end of the first quarter following a 7-0 run which included a 3-pointer by Mikaela Burgess and a pair of layups by by Shelby Lopez and Paige Imhoff.
UCM rallied back to tie the score at 34-all at halftime following a buzzer beater at the end of the second quarter, before taking the lead at 43-38 in the early going of the third by out scoring the Gorillas 9-4.
The Jennies knocked down five 3-pointers in the third quarter en route to building a 51-44 advantage heading into the fourth.
Pitt State managed to narrow the deficit to one halfway through the fourth quarter by out scoring Central Missouri 10-1, but the Jennies held on to win by frustrating the Gorilas’ offense in the final minutes.
Northcutt finished as the leading scorer with 14 points, six rebounds and a steal.
Lopez followed close behind with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist and a steal.
The win for the Gorilla men earns them home-court advantage in the first game against Lincoln at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Pitt State women’s team locked up the No. 2 seed in the MIAA tournament and await the winner between Southwest Baptist and Washburn. The Gorillas’ first game will tip at 2:15 p.m. inside Municipal Auditorium.
— 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.