Morning Sun
  • Pittsburg State women persevere in defensive battle

  • Call it great defense, call it bad offense or a combination of both elements but the Pittsburg State women stymied Fort Hays State in the first 10-plus minutes of their MIAA contest Saturday afternoon at Whetzel Court/John Lance Arena.

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  • Call it great defense, call it bad offense or a combination of both elements but the Pittsburg State women stymied Fort Hays State in the first 10-plus minutes of their MIAA contest Saturday afternoon at Whetzel Court/John Lance Arena.
    Fort Hays missed its first eight shots, scored no points the first 4:48, shot 1-for-15 to start the game and it looked as if Pitt State could establish a new school record for fewest points allowed (30 vs. MidAmerica Nazarene, 1988).
    Despite taking a 13-3 lead at the 13:10 mark on a Morgan Westhoff 3, Pitt State experienced its own epic offensive woes and Fort Hays went on a 16-2 run to gain a 24-17 halftime lead.
    The No. 24-ranked Gorillas turned it around in the second half, made some crucial defensive stops and persevered for a 51-48 win over No. 21 Fort Hays as Pitt State continues to make more big plays than its opponents.
    “People would say it’s about the ugliest game you’ve ever seen,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said. “But I thought it was a great game. Defenses were really good, I tell you, Hays is awesome on defense. That was the most physical team we’ve played all year, that’s for sure. They’re very talented.”
    Over their last three home games (Nebraska-Kearney, Northwest Missouri, Fort Hays), the Gorillas have not allowed an opponent to reach 50 points (Kearney 43, Northwest 47, Fort Hays 48).
    At first, it was senior guard Kaiameka Brown who kept Fort Hays within shouting distance with eight of the first 10 Hays points, then it was guards Melissa Nelson and Taylor Chandler who put Fort Hays ahead with a combined 14 first half points.
    Nelson and Chandler each shot 3-5 (6-10 total) from the field during a first half when the rest of the Tigers shot a combined 3-31 (9.7 percent, rounding up).
    Fort Hays proved relentless on the offensive glass with 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and nine Pitt State turnovers contributed to Fort Hays attempting 16 more shots than Pitt State the first 20.
    The Gorillas went scoreless the first 3:25 after halftime, until Lizzy Jeronimus swished a pair of free throws and Fort Hays led 25-19.
    Sophomore guard Brigit Hesser gave Pitt State a lift, including a basket of her own and an assist to Kylie Gafford. Westhoff continued the Gorillas’ run with a basket and Jeronimus put the Gorillas back ahead with two free throws, 27-26 with 15:24 left in the game. Pitt State scored 10 points over a span of 2 minutes.
    Fort Hays went back ahead 32-27 with 3s by Kelsie Sorenson and Tera Ingalsbe. Westhoff answered the Ingalsbe 3 with one of her own (Westhoff’s third of the game) and Gafford banked in a 3, keeping Pitt State close in the middle sections of the second half.
    Page 2 of 3 - Fort Hays freshman guard Beth Bohuslavsky (old school hair from Dwight, Neb., pop. 204) made it 45-39 with consecutive baskets.
    Westhoff’s old-fashioned three-point play cut it to 45-42 with 3:44 but the Gorillas burned their final timeout 23 seconds later after multiple struggles with inbounds plays and Fort Hays defensive pressure.
    After the timeout, with the shot clock bearing down on zero, Pitt State junior Alexa Bordewick knotted it at 45 with a trifecta from the left wing. Those were her first points of the game.
    “Alexa had the biggest shot of the game,” Lord said. “We’re down three and she hits a big 3. We’ve been trailing since the 7 or 8 minute mark of the first half so that was a huge 3, especially for her and her confidence.”
    Fort Hays sophomore Kate Lehman and Jeronimus, the two leading scorers in the MIAA, traded baskets for a 47-all game.
    Bohuslavsky was called for a handcheck on Bordewick and No. 22 gave a 48-47 lead on the split of double bonus free throws. Katelyn Edwards, blank from the field, tied it at 48 with her own split.
    Brown forced a turnover on Lehman with her long arms of the law and then Jeronimus made a tough one over the 6-foot-4 Lehman with 19 seconds remaining, putting the Gorillas ahead 50-48.
    “We wanted to get her the ball,” Lord said. “We went to a 1-4 low set and we tried to cross the guards and make them think we were going to get it to one of them but it was going to Lizzy the whole time. . . . She does what she always does, makes plays in crunch time. She got that one over Lehman at 6-4. She went right at her and willed that ball to go in.”
    On the ensuing Fort Hays possession, Lehman missed her 13th shot of the game, Jeronimus grabbed her 13th rebound and No. 42 closed out the scoring with a free throw as Fort Hays was forced to foul.
    Westhoff led Pitt State offensively with 14 points, one of the only players in the game effective shooting (3-5 on 3-point shots).
    Jeronimus finished with a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds, still playing a little bit under the weather.
    Hesser again stepped up with four points and six assists, the lone Pitt State player with a positive assist-turnover ratio.
    Lehman and Edwards, the two best Fort Hays players, combined to shoot 2-25 from the floor and score six points. Brown and Gafford stifled Lehman (Brown and Gafford both had three blocks) and Jeronimus, Lisa Elmer and Cathy Brugman all took defensive turns on Edwards. Lehman and Edwards combined for 22 rebounds.
    “When their two best players go 2-for-25, you did a pretty good job defensively,” Lord said. “I thought Lauren was fantastic and so was Kylie. Lizzy, Lisa and Cathy all kind of triple-guarded No. 12 and I thought we did a great job on her as well. She was 0-10 and if you take those two players out of the game, that was the only chance we had with our offensive woes.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Pitt State improved to 12-4, 6-2 MIAA and Fort Hays dropped to 11-4, 3-4, surely to drop out of the top 25 on Tuesday.
    Around the conference Saturday, Truman State defeated Central Missouri 73-64 to snap the Jennies’ eight-game winning streak, Northeastern State defeated previously undefeated in conference Washburn 52-43, Nebraska-Kearney knocked off Missouri Southern 67-60 in overtime, Northwest Missouri upended Central Oklahoma 65-55 and Lincoln defeated Lindenwood 72-63.
    Washburn leads the MIAA with a 5-1 mark. Pitt State, Truman State and Northeastern State are tied for second at 6-2. Central Missouri and Missouri Western are tied for fifth at 5-2.
    The Gorillas play Northeastern State on Wednesday, a road game in Tahlequah, Okla.

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