Pittsburg State sophomore forward Lizzy Jeronimus and senior post Lauren Brown were selected to the All-Tournament Team of the Missouri Southern Thanksgiving Classic.
Jeronimus was unanimously dubbed the Outstanding Player of the Thanksgiving Classic, her 29-point and 12-rebound performance last Friday against Evangel no doubt fixed in the minds of the voters. No. 42 averaged 22.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during wins over Evangel and Avila.
Last season, Jeronimus won MIAA Freshman of the Year and MVP of the South Central Regional Tournament, and earned WBCA Honorable Mention All-American honors, becoming Pitt State’s first All-American since Leslie Dudley (2000). Jeronimus leads Pitt State with a 20.8 scoring average and her 20.8 clip leads all MIAA players this season.
Brown verged on averaging a double-double this past weekend — 10.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. The 6-foot-6 post from Wichita added 2.0 blocks per game, tying her season-high of three Saturday.
Pitt State (4-0) returned to action for the first time in two weeks and the extended layoff between games definitely shown at times offensively against both Evangel and Avila.
The Gorillas have been especially tough defensively, allowing 48.0 points per game. Opponents are shooting 31.3 percent from the field (67-214) and 23.8 from 3-point range (19-80). Pitt State outscored its four opponents 162-89 after halftime. The Gorillas have the best field goal percentage defense in the 15-team MIAA.
Early in the season, quality depth has proven a strong point with 13 players in the scoring column and nine players averaging at least 3.3 points.
Sophomore forward Hailey Roderique earned a spot in the starting lineup against Southwest Minnesota and she’s kept it through a strong all-around game: 6.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 assists in four starts. She’s the best on-ball defender in the Gorillas’ stable. Y’Cedria Devers comes in with 4.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 assists.
Morgan Westhoff leads all bench players with 8.0 points per game. Freshman post Kylie Gafford spells Brown with 4.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Redshirt freshman Cathy Brugman scored a career-high nine points Saturday.
Jeronimus did not win MIAA Player of the Week on Monday, that distinction earned by Fort Hays State sophomore center Kate Lehman.
Lehman (a 6-4 post who presented Pitt State lots of trouble last season) averaged 16.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.3 blocks during wins over Newman, Arkansas Tech and UT-Permian Basin. Lehman had double-doubles against Newman (22 points, 13 rebounds) and UT-Permian Basin (10 points, 13 rebounds).
Last season, Lehman ranked fifth nationally in blocked shots (3.31 per game) and after six games this season, Lehman averages 17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks. She’s shooting 65.5 percent field goals (38-58) and 81.1 percent free throws (30-37), so fouling her and sending her to the stripe might not be a viable strategy.
The Tigers (6-0) have the best scoring defense in the MIAA — allowing 44.7 points per game. Fort Hays totaled 47 blocks in six games and Lehman’s 28 total alone outnumbers the team totals of each MIAA school.
Page 2 of 2 - Conference standings: Fort Hays State (6-0), Central Missouri (5-0), Pitt State (4-0), Truman State (4-0), Washburn (4-0), Missouri Western (5-1), Missouri Southern (5-1), Central Oklahoma (4-1), Northwest Missouri (4-2), Emporia State (2-1), Southwest Baptist (2-1), Lincoln (3-2), Northeastern State (3-2), Nebraska-Kearney (2-4), Lindenwood (1-2).
Conference play starts Dec. 5 and Pitt State opens its MIAA slate with Central Oklahoma Dec. 6 at Whetzel Court/John Lance Arena.
The Gorillas host William Jewell (3-1) on Wednesday and this will be the first PSU doubleheader of the season.
The Pittsburg State men have started out their season 4-1 but their schedule picks up considerably beginning Wednesday against William Jewell (2-2) and definitely with Central Oklahoma in the MIAA opener. The Gorillas have three wins against NAIA opponents (Baker, Avila, and Southwestern).
Freshman point guard Kaleb Porter gives Pitt State the nifty distinction of having the conference scoring leader on the men’s side (Porter, 21.4) and the women’s side (Lizzy Jeronimus, 20.8).
Offensively, Porter has been the most consistent Gorilla player (school freshman record 34 points against Lincoln in his second collegiate game) but has struggled with turnovers.
Pitt State leads the MIAA in free throw makes (133) and free throw attempts (185) — the Gorillas have 133 made free throws and the Missouri Southern Lions have 139 total attempts in six games. The Lions rank second in free throw attempts. Three PSU players rank in the top 15 of free throw percentage: Porter 86.5 (32-37), Rico Pierrevilus 82.4 (14-17) and Courtney Ingram 80.0 (24-30).
The Gorillas rank second in scoring offense (82.2), second in offensive rebounds (15.2) and 11th in scoring defense (73.8). Opponents are shooting 41.4 percent overall (123-297) and 40.4 percent from 3-point land (36-89) against the Pitt State defense, which has struggled with its rotations early in the season — leaving shooters like Charles Cole of Lincoln and Taylor Johnson of Southwestern open.
Five teams in the MIAA have a negative turnover margin and Pitt State ranks 12th in that stat (committed 90, forced 82). The Gorillas committed a season-high 29 turnovers during their loss at home to Newman; Newman remained undefeated with a 80-78 win over Fort Hays on Saturday.
Ingram and McGee, both seniors, have picked it up in recent games. Ingram ranks second on the Gorillas in both scoring (10.6) and rebounding (5.6). McGee averages 10.2 points and 9.0 rebounds, his rebounding average second-best in the MIAA.
Washburn senior guard Will McNeill earned MIAA Player of the Week on Monday, averaging 20.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 2.5 assists during a 4-0 week for nationally-ranked Washburn. His season-high 27 points helped Washburn to a 67-63 road victory over St. Mary’s (Texas).
Conference standings: Washburn 5-0, Northwest Missouri 5-0, Northeastern State 5-0, Lindenwood 3-0, Emporia State 4-1, Pitt State 4-1, Central Missouri 3-1, Missouri Western 3-2, Missouri Southern 3-3, Fort Hays State 2-2, Nebraska-Kearney 2-3, Southwest Baptist 2-5, Truman 1-3, Central Oklahoma 1-4, Lincoln 1-5.