The Pittsburg State women stopped a two-game losing streak and regained some critical momentum heading into the postseason with a thrilling 54-53 nonconference win over No. 8-ranked Northeastern State (Okla.) Saturday on Senior Day at John Lance Arena.

The Pittsburg State women stopped a two-game losing streak and regained some critical momentum heading into the postseason with a thrilling 54-53 nonconference win over No. 8-ranked Northeastern State (Okla.) Saturday on Senior Day at John Lance Arena.

“Another great finish,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said. “A game that we really needed. We had a tough week and to beat the No. 8 team in the country and get a little revenge from the game earlier this year. Our kids just stepped up and made a couple plays down the stretch and one big one late. I just couldn’t be more proud of our seniors and the effort they gave today.”

Junior guard Drew Roberts came through with two big plays in the final minute — she picked off a Northeastern State pass with 32 seconds remaining and hit the game-winning mid-range shot with 4 seconds.

“I can’t remember how the sequence . . . did Drew get the steal and we call time-out or did she go ahead and go?” Lord asked. “The play was supposed to be an isolation for Lizzy (Jeronimus) and she drove in and kicked it out to Drew. We had settled for the last 2 minutes on 3s instead of driving the ball and they were driving the ball. But then Lizzy kicked it out, Drew drove it and made a big shot. She’s a pretty good shooter but it sounded like the ball was flat and it just landed right in the goal for us. She’s made big plays all year and throughout her career.”

Lord started all five seniors — Larissa Richards, Courtney Tate, Amanda Orloske, Brooke Conley and Britnee Foster. Richards, Tate and Orloske have played their entire collegiate careers at Pitt State and Conley and Foster joined the Gorillas as junior college transfers last year.

Despite not winning a MIAA title, it has been a historical season — school records for wins in a season, consecutive wins, consecutive wins to start a season and most points scored in a single game.

“It feels good to actually have a healthy year,” Richards said. “No injuries, except for a concussion but, I mean, it’s nice that we went out with a big win. Hopefully, we can continue to win.”

Northeastern State, one spot behind Pitt State in the latest South Central regional rankings, defeated Pitt State back in January by 13 points, 61-48.

Despite the fact Northeastern State led 9-1 after 5:44 of game time, it was a dogfight most of the game between the RiverHawks and the Gorillas.

With an all-senior starting lineup Saturday for Pitt State, freshman power forward Lizzy Jeronimus (potential MIAA Freshman of the Year) did not start for the first time in her career and delivered 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, team highs. Her basket late in the first half gave Pitt State a 27-25 halftime lead and she made an old-fashioned three-point play after the RiverHawks went up 48-43 to get Pitt State back to down by two.

Roberts added 10 points and three assists, Conley nine points and four rebounds, Richards six points and six rebounds and Orloske six points.

Pitt State enters the MIAA Tournament with its last regular season game a win rather than having a three-game losing streak at the worst possible time.

In other MIAA games Saturday afternoon, Washburn defeated Lincoln 72-47, Missouri Western defeated Southwest Baptist 86-69, Truman beat Central Missouri 80-75 and Missouri Southern defeated Northwest Missouri 61-49.

Ebonie Williams, Stevi Schultz and Cassie Lombardino helped the Lady Blues claim an outright conference title with 37 points and 15 rebounds between them, big games for three seniors. Williams transferred from Division I Seton Hall and Schultz and Lombardino enjoyed standout prep careers at Kansas high schools, Neodesha and Basehor-Linwood respectively.

The Jennies, No. 6 in the latest South Central regional rankings and looking for their 20th win of the season, fell behind by as many as five points in overtime and cut the Bulldogs lead down to one with 22 seconds remaining before Truman shut the door with four consecutive foul shots.

It was a big day in St. Joseph, not only because the Griffons won on Senior Day and clinched a tournament spot but senior forward Jessica Koch became the all-time leading scorer in Missouri Western history, surpassing the previous mark of Lisa Hughes' 1,750 points with a free throw late in the game. Koch has been the conference's leading scorer by a comfortable margin from the word go this season and ranks top 5 nationally.

Pitt State (24-4, 17-3 MIAA) opens with Lincoln (14-12, 8-12) 6 p.m. Thursday at the Municipal Auditorium. Northeastern State fell to 23-4.

NORTHEASTERN STATE (53) — Sarah Green 6-9 2-2 17, Jasmine Wright 4-11 0-0 9, Taylor Lewis 3-10 0-0 7, Tosha Tyler 2-7 2-2 7, Cristy Nitz 2-10 1-1 5, Kendra Kok 1-4 1-2 3, Megan Fraley 1-1 0-0 3, Carrington Fox 1-2 0-0 2, Katy Harsen 0-3 0-0 0. Totals; 20-57 6-7 53.
PITTSBURG STATE (54) — Lizzy Jeronimus 6-11 3-6 16, Drew Roberts 4-11 0-0 10, Brooke Conley 3-10 2-2 9, Larissa Richards 3-5 0-0 6, Amanda Orloske 2-7 0-0 6, Alexa Bordewick 1-6 0-0 3, Lauren Brown 1-1 0-0 2, Morgan Westhoff 1-2 0-0 2, Britnee Foster 0-2 0-0 0, Courtney Tate 0-2 0-0 0, Hailey Roderique 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-57 5-8 54.
Halftime — PSU 27, NESU 25. 3-point goals — NESU 7-23 (Green 3-5, Fraley 1-1, Tyler 1-2, Wright 1-3, Lewis 1-7, Nitz 0-3, Harsen 0-2), PSU 7-31 (Orloske 2-6, Roberts 2-8, Jeronimus 1-2, Bordewick 1-6, Conley 1-6, Foster 0-1, Tate 0-1, Westhoff 0-1). Rebounds — NESU 30 (Wright 7), PSU 45 (Jeronimus 12). Assists — NESU 15 (Wright 4), PSU 13 (Conley, Roberts 3). Turnovers — NESU 7, PSU 16. Steals — NESU 7 (Green 3), PSU 2. Blocked shots — NESU 3, PSU 2. Personal fouls — NESU 9, PSU 14. Fouled out — none. Attendance — 1,875.

MIAA Standings
School               MIAA    Overall
Washburn            18-2    25-4
Pittsburg St.        17-3     24-4
Emporia St.         14-6     19-7
Central Mo.         13-7     19-7
Fort Hays St.      12-8     20-8
Truman               11-9     17-9
Lincoln (Mo.)       8-12     14-12
Mo. Western St.  5-15     7-19
Southwest Baptist 4-16 9-17
Mo. Southern St.  4-16     8-18
Northwest Mo. St. 4-16     6-22