The Pittsburg State women found absolutely the worst possible time for their first two-game losing streak of the season.

The Pittsburg State women found absolutely the worst possible time for their first two-game losing streak of the season.

On Wednesday night, Fort Hays State outrebounded Pitt State 45-36 (including 16 offensive rebounds in the first half) and made 17 of 18 free throws after halftime en route to a 72-61 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

“We got outplayed tonight,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord told Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. “Hays really did a great job. They established the paint early with (freshman Kate) Lehman and did a great job knocking down open shots. The key to the game was their offensive rebounds. They had 16 offensive rebounds at halftime, which is unbelievable to me. That’s just not very good blocking out and not very good defense.”

Pitt State held its only lead of the game (2-1) for all of 32 seconds. Kate Lehman put Fort Hays back up 3-2 on a layup and it seemed like every Fort Hays basket came on a layup. Fort Hays made 23 field goals and 10 of them were layups; the Tigers finished with 32 points inside-the-paint.

Six-foot-four freshman post Lehman gave Pitt State interior players Larissa Richards and Lauren Brown fits back in January when Pitt State defeated Fort Hays 64-55 in overtime at John Lance Arena. Lehman led all players with 15 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

On Wednesday night, Lehman poured in 16 points along with her seven rebounds and four blocks. The reigning MIAA Player of the Week (she averaged 19.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks last week) ranked third in the nation with her 3.3 blocks per contest entering Wednesday night and toasted both Richards and Brown with her strong hand for multiple layups.

“I don’t know how many times we can go over it but our job is to cut away the baseline and make her go to her left hand,” Lord said.

For their second consecutive game, the Gorillas scuffled from the floor at critical times, shooting 37.1 percent overall (23-62). Brooke Conley alone finished 4-17. In addition, Pitt State attempted only 14 free throws and drew only 13 personal fouls; on the other hand, Fort Hays shot 31 free throws.

“They did a great job of being physical and taking away our drives,” Lord said. “They’re just tougher than we were tonight and we had some possessions where we’d get all the way to the rack and we’d miss a lot of little bunnies. It’s tough when you’ve got a two-footer and you miss it. It kind of gets into your psyche.”

Pitt State (23-4 overall) finishes MIAA play 17-3 and will be the No. 2 seed at the MIAA Tournament next week. The Gorillas are ranked No. 2 in the South Central region, falling from No. 1 after its loss to Washburn on Saturday.
Washburn now owns both the No. 1 regional spot and the No. 1 MIAA Tournament seed. The Lady Blues of Washburn ruined their rival Emporia State’s Senior Night with a 53-52 win on a baseline jumper by Ebonie Williams with 4.4 seconds remaining.

“We’re not very good right now,” Lord said, “so we’ve got a huge couple days of practice and a very good team (Northeastern State) on Saturday, then we’ve got to get ready for the MIAA Tournament. Region seedings . . . we just hope we get a chance because the way we’re playing now we’re going have to make some serious changes.
“We struggled to score the basketball during that stretch too and we bounced out of it. Yeah, we’ll make a little bit of a change in the lineup and we may go smaller and a little quicker against Northeastern and put Lizzy down at the 5, then maybe we can get our points going.”

The Gorillas host Northeastern State (23-3) on Saturday, a game with regional implications since the Gorillas and the RiverHawks are ranked 2-3 South Central. Northeastern defeated Pitt State 61-48 in January.

Gorilla seniors Richards, Conley, Courtney Tate, Britnee Foster and Amanda Orloske play their final regular season and possibly their final game at John Lance Arena.

PITTSBURG STATE (61) — Drew Roberts 3-6 3-4 11, Larissa Richards 5-10 0-0 10, Brooke Conley 4-17 0-0 8, Alexa Bordewick 3-7 0-0 8, Lizzy Jeronimus 1-8 6-8 8, Lauren Brown 3-4 1-2 7, Morgan Westhoff 2-3 0-0 4, Amanda Orloske 1-2 0-0 3, Britnee Foster 1-4 0-0 2, Courtney Tate 0-1 0-0 0, Hailey Roderique 0-0 0-0 0, Kristina Willis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-62 10-14 61.
FORT HAYS STATE (72) — Kate Lehman 6-10 4-6 16, Crista Bechard 3-9 6-6 13, Katelyn Edwards 5-14 2-6 12, Kaiameka Brown 4-11 2-2 10, Kimber Weiser 2-4 4-4 9, Traci Keyser 2-5 4-4 8, Melissa Nelson 1-4 2-3 4, Janel Durler 0-2 0-0 0, Keriann Shaw 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-59 24-31 72.
Halftime — FHSU 31, PSU 29. 3-point goals — PSU 5-14 (Roberts 2-4, Bordewick 2-5, Orloske 1-1, Conley 0-2, Tate 0-1, Westhoff 0-1), FHSU 2-12 (Bechard 1-2, Weiser 1-3, Brown 0-2, Edwards 0-2, Nelson 0-2, Keyser 0-1). Rebounds — PSU 36 (Richards 8), FHSU 45 (Edwards 10). Assists — PSU 7 (Conley 3), FHSU 7 (Weiser 3). Turnovers — PSU 12, FHSU 12. Steals — PSU 4, FHSU 4. Blocked shots — PSU 5 (Richards 3), FHSU 5 (Lehman 4). Personal fouls — PSU 22, FHSU 13. Fouled out — Jeronimus, PSU. A — 2,137.