Morning Sun
  • Pitt State overcomes poor 1st half, beats Lincoln

  • Pittsburg State overcame an atrocious defensive effort in the first half with an improved defensive focus after halftime and the performances of freshman point guard Kaleb Porter, senior forward JaVon McGee and senior guard Marky Nolen.

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  • Pittsburg State overcame an atrocious defensive effort in the first half with an improved defensive focus after halftime and the performances of freshman point guard Kaleb Porter, senior forward JaVon McGee and senior guard Marky Nolen.
    Pitt State outscored Lincoln 45-33 after halftime Friday afternoon and hung on for a 86-78 win in the first game of the two-day Chris Tucker Memorial Classic at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
    “Our defensive effort in the first half was awful,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff said. “I thought we made good adjustments in the second half to put ourselves in a position to win the game down the stretch. I’m not trying to take anything away from Lincoln. I thought Lincoln was good tonight. I thought they shot the ball extremely well. They caused us problems with our defense and the way we guarded them. We’ve got to be better defensively.
    “I thought JaVon was a big key for us second half. Finally, I think he’s getting back to where he needs to be. Marky, in the second half, played better — more energy, more aggressiveness.
    Obviously, I thought Kaleb was dominating for us offensively. We’re going to have to have other guys step for us and I know we have other guys that can step up offensively but Kaleb had to do that tonight. He took us on his shoulders and got it done.”
    In only his second collegiate game, Porter established a brand new career-high 34 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field, 5-6 from 3-point range and 7-8 on free throws. Porter added five rebounds and one steal; one glaring negative was that he finished with a negative assist/turnover ratio — one assist, five turnovers for the freshman from Tulsa.
    “He can really shoot it,” Muff said. “He’s such a hard guard because he can drive it. He didn’t facilitate tonight but he didn’t really need to because every time he did take a look, I thought it was a good shot . . . he might have forced a couple. He got in the paint, nobody came to take him and he’ll just shoot layups. He’s a good player.”
    Porter scored all 11 Pitt State points over a 5-minute stretch (14:49-9:48) of the second half as PSU went from behind 53-51 to ahead 62-57. He scored 20 of his 34 points after halftime.
    This performance sends Porter into the history books at a very early stage in his PSU career: his 34 points are believed to be a freshman single-game record, are the highest point total since Cory Abercrombie scored 36 against Southwest Baptist in 2007 and rank tied for sixth-highest since 1990 (tied with a great Pitt State guard, Eddie Jackson).
    Jim Chroust scored a school-record 48 against Emporia State (March 2, 1966) and he scored 41 against Lincoln on Feb. 8, 1966.
    Page 2 of 3 - McGee recorded the second double-double of the young season for the Gorillas: 14 points and 12 rebounds. He scored six of his points on free throws, helping overcome 4-14 shooting from the floor. McGee grabbed nine defensive rebounds, as Lincoln shot 36.7 percent overall and 25.0 percent from 3-point land after halftime.
    Nolen scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds before fouling out.
    Pitt State attempted 40 free throws in the contest and drew at least four personal fouls on five Lincoln players — Shakir Preston, Cedric Ridle, Devin Booker, Montez Fifer and Sean Harris. Pitt State outscored Lincoln 29-14 on free throws and outattempted the Blue Tigers 40-23.
    “That’s part of what our offense is set up to do and that’s what we want to do,” Muff said. “We want to get to the paint. We want to drive it. We want to be aggressive. That’s two games now we’ve been to the foul line quite a bit.”
    Lincoln did its best shooting in the first half, taking its 45-41 halftime lead on the strength of 8-13 (61.5 percent) shooting from 3-point range. Montez Fifer and Charles Cole alone combined for seven 3-point shots.
    Pitt State limited its conference foe in a nonconference game to only two made 3-point shots after halftime. However, the Blue Tigers refused to quit and Ridle’s layup narrowed the Gorillas’ lead to 82-78 with 47 ticks remaining. Ingram and McGee, two players in the Pitt State program longest, closed out the scoring with four consecutive made foul shots.
    Ridle and Cole each led the Blue Tigers with 18 points, Fifer had 15 points and big man Harris (6-foot-9, finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
    Pitt State and Lincoln play again Jan. 10 during an official Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Assocation contest.
    “It’s good for us because we’re going to play them after Christmas,” Muff said. “We got a feel for them. Our freshmen and our transfers, everybody needs to see a conference opponent. They need to see what it’s like.
    “If we play the way that we played defensively and still come out with a win, it’s a positive. We’ll do better than that. I promise you. We’ll be better than that or there will be an entirely new look to our team because we’re going to find people that guarded better than we guarded today.”
    Pitt State (2-0) plays Avila at 5 p.m. tonight in the last day of the Chris Tucker Memorial Classic. The Gorillas return home Tuesday for a nonconference game against Newman at John Lance Arena.
    Gorillas ink Leahy, Gustafson
    Muff announced Friday the signings of high school seniors Hunter Leahy (Kingwood, Texas) and Josiah Gustafson (Omaha, Neb).
    “With the loss of two impact post players (McGee, Pierrevilus) this next year, we needed to find a high school post player to fill that void,” Muff said in a media release. “At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Hunter will bring a physical presence to the paint for us. He has great hands, understands angles and will surprise you with the athleticism he possesses for someone his size. Hunter’s best basketball is ahead of him and we feel fortunate to get a player and person of his ability and character.
    Page 3 of 3 - “We are excited about the diversity Josiah will bring to next year’s team. At 6-5 he can play a variety of positions and be very effective at all of them. Josiah has the natural ability to lead and plays the game at a high level, both physically and intellectually. He is another solid piece of the puzzle in building a program with system players. Josiah understands the commitment it takes for success on the court and in the classroom.”

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