Senior Days or Senior Nights often come equipped with more emotion than any other basketball game because of the finality of the last home game for young men and young women.

Senior Days or Senior Nights often come equipped with more emotion than any other basketball game because of the finality of the last home game for young men and young women.

Pittsburg State seniors Andra Bailey, Drake Green, Adrian Herrera and Eric Ray played their final home games Saturday at John Lance Arena.

Pitt State head basketball coach Kevin Muff expressed that emotion after the Pitt State men defeated the Northeastern State RiverHawks 78-54.

“Three of them have been with me for four years,” Muff said. “I almost broke down out there but afterward, I just went in the locker room and cried and kind of got that out of my system because it will never be like this again, it will never be with those guys again. Dre, I’ve only had two years but what a great group of guys, a great group of individuals.”

Muff reiterated a quote from Kansas State head coach Frank Martin to describe Ray, Bailey, Green and Herrera as four players who left the Pitt State basketball program in better shape than before their arrival on campus. Muff called this senior group a standard-bearer for future seniors.

Ray, Green and Herrera played two years for Muff at Cloud County Community College and joined Muff at Pitt State for their junior and senior years.

Ray made his first seven shots and helped Pitt State recover from an early 8-0 deficit, gain a lead and build a lead on the RiverHawks. Pitt State led 29-20 at halftime, assisted by 10 points from junior forward JaVon McGee.

The Gorillas blew open the game early in the second half, as Bailey scored the first three points on a long-range bomb and Courtney Ingram quickly made it a 15-point game with a layup off a Northeastern State turnover. Pitt State maintained its lead in double-digits for the remainder of the game and had it as high as 26 after Herrera’s first two points late in the game.

McGee finished with a game-high 19 points and Ray scored 17 points on impressive 80 percent shooting (8-10). Bailey had 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Pitt State ends a two-game losing streak — with the MIAA Tournament on the horizon next Friday at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. The Gorillas ended February 3-5, an improvement on recent seasons.

“It’s a plus for us,” Muff said. “We needed to play well, which I thought we did at times, and I thought we showed some things defensively as well as offensively that we haven’t done for a long time and whether it’s Northeastern or Washburn or Central or Hays, I thought we did a very good job tonight of setting the tempo defensively.”

Pitt State (15-13, 10-10 MIAA) will be locked in at the No. 7 seed.

“I think we can beat anybody,” Muff said. “Washburn, Central and Northwest all tied for first, so we’re going to play one of those three. So, you look at the Central game, we lost a close one here and lost a really close one there. Northwest, overtime and close one here. Washburn, beat them once here and lost up at their place. So, can we beat anybody that we’re going to face first round? First round’s a big one because if you don’t get past the first one it don’t matter. We’re looking at it as a one-game shot.”

Northwest Missouri defeated Missouri Southern 67-64 in Maryville. Southern missed two point-blank shots late in the game, Northwest water bug guard DeShaun Cooper grabbed the rebound, drew a foul and made both free throws, icing Southern. Cooper led Northwest with 21 points and eight assists. Jason Adams led Southern with 15 points and Northwest held MIAA leading scorer Keane Thomann to 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

Central Missouri edged Truman 82-79 at the UCM Multipurpose Building. Five  Central players scored in double figures — Dominique Long (18), Alex Dean (12), Widgett Washington (11), Boo Hunter (10) and Lance Beckwith (10).

The Ichabods of Washburn blew out Lincoln 107-69 and this victory gives Washburn 10 MIAA titles in men’s basketball. Six Washburn players hit double figures — Will McNeill (22), Jared Henry (18), Joseph Smith (15), Zack Riggins (14), Kyle Wiggins (10) and Alex North (10). McNeill established a school record for steals at 158 with his three on Saturday.

Northwest Missouri, Central Missouri and Washburn each finished 15-5 MIAA.

GORILLAS 78, RIVERHAWKS 54
NORTHEASTERN STATE (54) — Dakota Caudill 5-6 2-4 12, Jack Miller 3-5 3-5 11, Justin Johnson 3-10 0-0 7, Christian Mack 2-3 0-0 6, Jon Miller 2-6 2-2 6, Dee Willis 2-3 0-0 5, John Schneider 2-5 0-0 4, Zach Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Kevin Arnold 0-1 1-4 1, Ethan Anderson 0-6 0-0 0. Totals: 20-46 8-15 54.
PITTSBURG STATE (78) — JaVon McGee 8-15 3-3 19, Eric Ray 8-10 1-1 17, Andra Bailey 4-10 2-5 12, Marky Nolen 4-7 0-2 9, Rico Pierrevilus 1-4 4-4 6, Courtney Ingram 1-5 4-4 6, Demetrius Virginia 1-1 1-2 3, Drake Green 1-3 0-0 2, Adrian Herrera 1-4 0-0 2, Ian Ponds 0-2 2-2 2, Sam Pugh 0-1 0-0 0, Arjok Guguai 0-0 0-0 0, Bradley Argabright 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-62 17-23 78.
Halftime — PSU 39, NESU 29. 3-point goals — NESU 6-18 (Mack 2-2, Ja. Miller 2-2, Willis 1-1, Johnson 1-5, Jo. Miller 0-3, Anderson 0-2, Arnold 0-1, Caudill 0-1), PSU 3-11 (Bailey 2-3, Nolen 1-1, Ingram 0-3, Herrera 0-2, Ponds 0-1, Ray 0-1). Rebounds — NESU 25 (Schneider 5), PSU 41 (Bailey 9). Assists — NESU 15 (three players with 3), PSU 12 (Bailey, Ingram 3). Turnovers — NESU 17, PSU 11. Steals — NESU 4, PSU 8. Blocked shots — NESU 5, PSU 1. Personal fouls — NESU 20, PSU 15. Fouled out — Anderson, NESU; Pierrevilus, PSU. Attendance — 1,915.

MIAA Standings
School                     MIAA    Overall
Northwest Mo. St.     15-5    21-5
Washburn                 15-5    21-7
Central Mo.              15-5    19-7
Mo. Southern St.      14-6    22-6
Fort Hays St.           12-8    18-8
Southwest Baptist   11-9    18-11
Pittsburg St.            10-10  15-13
Emporia St.              5-15    9-17
Truman                    5-15    8-20
Mo. Western St.       4-16    9-17
Lincoln (Mo.)            4-16    4-22