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Morning Sun
  • Milestone for PSU's McGee in win

  • At one point in the first half, after back-to-back layups by Fort Hays State freshman point guard Craig Nicholson gave Fort Hays a 33-20 lead with 3:30 remaining, it looked as if the Pittsburg State men were well on their way to being handed their third straight loss.

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  • At one point in the first half, after back-to-back layups by Fort Hays State freshman point guard Craig Nicholson gave Fort Hays a 33-20 lead with 3:30 remaining, it looked as if the Pittsburg State men were well on their way to being handed their third straight loss.
    However, Pitt State turned it around with a 15-2 scoring run and forced a 35-all halftime score when JaVon McGee found Sam Pugh for a breakaway layup to beat the buzzer.
    During this 3-plus minute stretch, Fort Hays committed two turnovers and missed three jump shots. Meanwhile, Pitt State received points from McGee, Pugh, Kaleb Porter, A.J. Adams and Marky Nolen.
    “I think the telling statistic in that game for us was the end of the first half when we were down 13,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff said. “Didn’t call a timeout and we got a little momentum. I thought most of that momentum came from our defense and got us into transition and some easy buckets. Once we got some transition buckets, the crowd gets back into it, the bench gets into it and it motivated us to finish the half. Going in tied was huge.”
    With a brand new ballgame, Pitt State built a 67-58 lead with 3:41 remaining and held on by a late Fort Hays missed layup, plus a Courtney Ingram free throw, for a 72-69 win Saturday at Whetzel Court/John Lance Arena.
    “You can look at it a lot of different ways but what it comes down to in the end is how do you answer and how you handle runs opponents make,” Muff said. “We got the last run in and we were very fortunate to win. We understand that but I’m not going to let that detract from winning this game because we did a lot of good things in the process of putting us in a position to win.”
    Pitt State senior McGee, a four-year member of the PSU basketball team and the last holdover from the Gene Iba Era, reached three career milestones Saturday: 100 career games, 1,000 career points and he entered a fourth-place tie with Bernie Onelio in career rebounds (669).
    “I’m very happy for JaVon,” Muff said. “What a great accomplishment for him. No. 1, being here for four years because it’s good to see some kids go into your program as freshmen and come out as seniors even though I was only here for three years of it.
    “I told him in the locker room, congratulations on 1,000 points. I don’t think he knew I knew. It’s a lot better putting Fort Hays State at home with a win than a loss. That’s big. If you’re going to make 1,000 points and set a career standard, I’d much rather have it be on a win than a loss.”
    Page 2 of 2 - McGee was six points shy of the 1,000-point mark entering Saturday.
    McGee entered the season with 554 career rebounds, just four boards outside the career top 10. So far this season, McGee passed Jamey Richardson, Lonnie McThompson, Fred Harder, Max Ruark, Dan Stanley and Doug Gillispie. No. 44 averages 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds this season with a game-high 22 points (giving him 1,016 career points) and four rebounds Saturday.
    “I think he’s grown up,” Muff said. “Every kid does. Every kid matures. He and I still clash. We have our moments and you can probably see it when you’re standing on the sideline. . . . JaVon’s learned how to handle me, I’ve learned how to handle JaVon and we’ve got a mutual respect for each other. I know sometimes he’s capable of giving us more than what he thinks he can and I’m going to keep pushing to get more out of him because it’s going to be good for everybody involved, not just him.”
    Pitt State tied a season high with 18 total assists on Saturday — four apiece from Ingram and Porter, three from Pugh and two apiece from McGee and Nolen. Fort Hays dished out 19 assists, seven apiece from Nicholson and Ben Congiusta.
    Both teams combined for 37 assists on 50 field goals or 74 percent of made baskets Saturday involved assists.
    Nolen came through with a big game — 16 points, a team-high eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. He knocked down three 3-pointers, including two during the Gorillas’ second half run.
    Rico Pierrevilus finished with nine points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. Pugh added eight points, two rebounds and three assists.
    Lance Russell led Fort Hays State with 21 points, Nicholson had 15, Dwayne Brunson 14 and Congiusta 11 for the Tigers.
    Pitt State improves to 12-4, 5-3 MIAA and Fort Hays drops to 10-5, 4-3.
    The Gorillas are in a tie for third with Northeastern State and the two teams play Wednesday night in Tahlequah, Okla. Central Missouri (6-1 MIAA) and Northwest Missouri (5-2) are first and second, respectively.
    In other games Saturday, Central Missouri defeated Truman State 63-59, Lindenwood defeated Lincoln 69-50, Nebraska-Kearney upended Missouri Southern 74-66, Northwest Missouri defeated Central Oklahoma 71-57 and Northeastern State defeated Washburn 85-78.
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