During the 1995-96 season, the Pittsburg State women’s basketball team opened up MIAA conference play with a 3-0 record.

During the 1995-96 season, the Pittsburg State women’s basketball team opened up MIAA conference play with a 3-0 record.
In fact, the Gorillas went 6-0 to start the conference and finished as the co-champion of the league.
That was the last time the Gorillas started the season 3-0 in MIAA play.
Until now.
In head coach Lane Lord’s second season as head coach, the Gorillas have opened up the 2008-09 season with the same conference mark heading into Monday night’s game at Central Missouri.
“We have gotten off to a great start and it has given the girls a lot of confidence,” Lord said.
But, PSU has a daunting task to go 6-0. Two of their next three games are on the road starting Monday night and finishing and the end of the week with a showdown at Missouri Southern.
Sandwiched in between is a home date on New Year’s Eve with Northwest Missouri.
“This is an important week for us,” Lord said. “Central is a great team and they are off to a great start.”
And Lord is aware of the fact that Central does pose a threat.
The Jennies (7-2, 2-1 MIAA) have beaten both Southwest Baptist and Southern while their lone loss was a 77-64 decision to Emporia State. They also just returned from a 2-0 trip in Florida for the Hoop-n-Surf Classic in Fort Lauderdale.
“It is interesting because they run the same offense that we run. It is a dribble-drive motion,” Lord said. “It is almost like we are playing ourselves.”
That offense has paid dividends for the Gorillas as they have outscored their opponents 731-582 in their first nine games of the season.
While the Gorillas are 7-2 overall, both of their losses have been by a combined nine points and one — against Central Oklahoma — was against a ranked opponent on a neutral floor.
“They get to practice against it everyday too,” Lord said. “It will be fun to see how those offenses are run.”
That means the key to a 4-0 start is holding turnovers and battling for rebounds.
The Gorillas have 44 rebounds a game to their opponents’ 40 rebounds per game.
“I thought our last three conference games we have rebounded very well,” Lord said. “Our game starts with the defense and we have done a nice job of not fouling in the open court.”
Pitt State will have to contend with the inside play of Central’s Rebecca Roberts and Katy Davenport. Roberts is the Jennies’ leading scorer, averaging 14 points per game and 8.1 rebounds.
“We have to keep Nicole (McCombs) out of foul trouble and get the ball inside to Laura (Glenn) and Aubrey (Jones),” Lord said.
It has been the consistency of McCombs inside that has been a welcome for the Gorillas. She leads PSU with a 14.1 points per game average and is also pulling down an average of 6.4 rebounds per game overall and just over 10 boards per game against conference opponents.
“We want to try to get to the line and they do so, whoever can do that and rebound the ball best will win,” Lord said.
He added that the Gorillas have had three solid practices since returning from the holiday break.
“We seem to be in okay shape after the break,” Lord said. “Hopefully, our conditioning is as good as it needs to be.”
This is a far cry from last season when the Gorillas had their ups and downs — mostly downs — during the conference season.
“I really think that we have a little more maturity with three seniors,” Lord said. “There are veteran players and we are starting good experience and you have to play a couple of years to get that.
“Hopefully, those guys that have been through the grind before know what to expect,” Lord said. “You have to have a quick memory if you lose because there is not much time between games. Last year, we lost one, then we lost two and it began to snowball,” “We have to be able to come back quick so that doesn’t happen again like last year.”
Tip-off Monday is slated for 6 p.m. with the men following at 7:30 p.m.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140