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  • The idea of good shooting being contagious has been a popular cliché for sports writers over the years.

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  • The idea of good shooting being contagious has been a popular cliché for sports writers over the years.
    Well, in the first half of the Pittsburg State and Nebraska-Kearney women's basketball game, bad shooting and turnovers were contagious. The Gorillas and the Lopers combined for 24 turnovers, 40 missed field goals and eight missed free throws in 13 attempts.
    “Our offense was pretty bad tonight,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said. “Especially early, 13 turnovers at half. We made some silly plays but all in all, never apologize for a victory. I thought our defense was . . . when you hold a team in our league to 43 points, that's a pretty good job by your team. I thought it was an all-around good team effort.”
    At different points of the first half, Pitt State found enough rhythm on the offensive end. Lizzy Jeronimus scored the first four points of the game on a pair of patented drives and layups, the Gorillas scored on four consecutive possessions to go on a 8-2 scoring run and Morgan Westhoff hit a bailout 3 late in the half to put the Gorillas ahead 24-18 en route to a 25-18 halftime lead and 62-43 win Thursday night at Whetzel Court/John Lance Arena.
    Pitt State could have built a bigger lead sooner were it not for 13 first-half turnovers - most coming on bad passes of some form or another (miscommunication here, miscommunication there). After all, Pitt State held Nebraska-Kearney to 22 percent shooting, 7-for-32.
    The Lopers stayed in the game with their offensive rebounding and Pitt State turnovers. At the halftime break, Nebraska-Kearney led 11-5 in offensive rebounds, helping overcome its cold shooting with relentless work on the offensive glass.
    “We addressed it at halftime and points were hard to come by tonight,” Lord said. “It was tough so we were able to get some stops and get out in transition. We finished a couple in transition, we threw a couple away but we did some things in the second half.”
    Pitt State looked as if it had not played a game since Dec. 19.
    “Oh man, I'm telling you what, we're in there at halftime almost laughing because it was comical at times,” Lord said. “I told them they looked like the 'Bad News Bears' but I think they're all too young and they don't even know what that means. But no, I'm proud of our group. You walk a fine line when you come back from break. . . . We played all 12 in the first half and a lot of that had to do, we looked like we were gassed out there in the game.”
    Sparked by five points from Westhoff, Pitt State gained a 42-29 lead with 11:29 remaining on a pair of Cathy Brugman free throws.
    Page 2 of 3 - About a minute of game time later, Pitt State led 46-29 on back-to-back interior baskets from Jeronimus.
    When the Lopers' seasonal leading scorer Shelby Zimmerman made a basket for a 46-31 deficit, she ended a 13-0 scoring run for Pitt State.
    Alexa Bordewick gave Pitt State a 55-37 lead on a 3 at the 6:42 mark.
    Back-to-back 3s by Westhoff and Bordewick made it a 62-42 contest with under 90 seconds remaining.
    The Lopers entered the contest dead last in the MIAA in scoring offense (60.7) and their 43 points Thursday night will not help. Nebraska-Kearney missed 40 field goals, 10 3-pointers and 15 free throws Thursday night.
    Jeronimus, the conference's leading scorer, finished with 14 points.
    Westhoff proved the most efficient offensive player Thursday night - 12 points on 4-6 shooting overall and 3-5 from 3-point land. Westhoff also had three rebounds and a team-high two steals.
    “Morgan Westhoff did a really great job for us tonight,” Lord said. “She's done it pretty much all year for us. When she has an opportunity, she knocks down big shots and I believe she hit two or three there in the second half that were huge for us, to give us a little separation. She's really improved and I think she's one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference.”
    Four players ended with six points apiece for the Gorillas - Bordewick, Drew Roberts, Lauren Brown and Kylie Gafford.
    Lord was encouraged by the makes from Roberts and Bordewick.
    “It was good to see Alexa knock a couple down,” Lord said. “She's been a great leader for us, she did a great job defensively tonight, talking on transition defense and getting people in the right spots. But for her to knock a couple down, that's huge for us. Drew hit three good pull-up jumpers and we need her to get going. They've both been suffering from those ankle injuries. It's hurt them a little bit.”
    Brown added 11 rebounds (seven offensive) and four blocked shots, part of the defensive effort.
    Ivy Jones led Nebraska-Kearney with 12 points, two rebounds and four steals. Queen Omahara added nine points and seven rebounds.
    Pitt State ended a two-game losing streak at home and improved to 8-3 overall, 2-1 in the MIAA. Nebraska-Kearney fell to 4-6, 1-2.
    With losses from both Fort Hays State and Northwest Missouri on Thursday, Pitt State now sits in a seven-way tie for second in the MIAA. Fort Hays, Central Missouri, Missouri Western, Truman State, Pitt State, Northwest Missouri and Northeastern State all have 2-1 marks.
    That gives the Northwest Missouri and Pitt State game late Saturday morning a little extra importance, as if national television cameras and an official floor dedication, as well as a free pancake breakfast, do not already make for a great college basketball atmosphere.
    Page 3 of 3 - No. 17 GORILLAS 62, LOPERS 43
    NEBRASKA-KEARNEY (43) — Ivy Jones 5-16 0-0 12, Queen Ohamara 4-8 1-4 9, Shelby Zimmerman 2-3 4-6 8, Laramey Lewis 2-8 1-2 5, Melissa Norman 1-3 2-6 4, Danielle Kersten 1-2 0-0 2, Sarah Hix 0-5 1-2 1, Nadia Williams 0-6 1-2 1, Sydney Seberger 0-2 1-4 1, Nicole Arp 0-2 0-0 0, Shara Luther 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-55 11-26 43.
    PITTSBURG STATE (62) — Lizzy Jeronimus 7-11 0-1 14, Morgan Westhoff 4-6 1-2 12, Drew Roberts 3-9 0-0 6, Lauren Brown 3-7 0-0 6, Alexa Bordewick 2-7 0-0 6, Kylie Gafford 2-4 2-2 6, Hailey Roderique 2-3 1-3 5, Y'Cedria Devers 2-4 0-0 4, Cathy Brugman 0-2 2-2 2, Brigit Hesser 0-2 1-2 1, Lisa Elmer 0-2 0-0 0, Kristina Willis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-57 7-12 62.
    Halftime — PSU 25, UNK 18. 3-point goals — UNK 2-12 (Jones 2-6, Hix 0-3, Lewis 0-2, Arp 0-1), PSU 5-20 (Westhoff 3-5, Bordewick 2-4, Roberts 0-3, Brugman 0-2, Jeronimus 0-2, Roderique 0-1, Hesser 0-1, Elmer 0-1, Devers 0-1). Rebounds — UNK 39 (Ohamara 7), PSU 41 (Brown 11). Assists — UNK 5, PSU 14 (Roberts 3). Turnovers — UNK 16, PSU 17. Steals — UNK 8 (Jones 4), PSU 5 (Westhoff 2). Blocked shots — UNK 2, PSU 6 (Brown 4). Personal fouls — UNK 14, PSU 14. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none.

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