Guard play cost the Pittsburg State men when the Gorillas lost to Fort Hays State in January and it cost Pitt State again Wednesday night during a 66-60 loss at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Guard play cost the Pittsburg State men when the Gorillas lost to Fort Hays State in January and it cost Pitt State again Wednesday night during a 66-60 loss at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The Tigers’ six guards — Karron McKenzie, Kendrick Morse, Lance Russell, Omar McDade, Sean Dreiling and Moses Dayee — outscored Pitt State guards 58-15 and made eight 3-point shots compared to none for the Gorillas. Sloppy ballhandling also hurt the Gorillas in the first half.

“Turnovers were big,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff told Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. “First half 12, so we did a better job second half. Yeah, Hays kinda packed it in better against us . . . I thought they were better defensively second half than they were in the first half. We weren’t as good.”

Pitt State junior forward JaVon McGee gave Pitt State its only lead on the first two points of the game and Morse hit a 3-pointer for a 5-2 lead. The Gorillas trailed only 29-26 at halftime, despite high turnovers.

“We got (senior point guard) Eric Ray to get up and defend a little bit earlier in the possession,” Muff said, “and our other guards were able to get out and extend and put a little pressure on them. We did a good job and I thought we made a heckuva run.”

McGee scored the first two of the second half on a tip for a 29-28 deficit but Fort Hays took control again of the game and built its lead as high as 14 points with 10:25 remaining in the contest.

Fort Hays shot 45.1 percent from the floor (23-51) and Pitt State 35.5 (22-62), helping Pitt State build a 21-4 offensive rebounding advantage.

“Offensively right now, we just can’t put the ball in the hole and we’re not executing at a high level,” Muff said, “which leads to low percentages. I’m a little bit frustrated. We continue to beat up the boards and do a great job there. The kids responded to what we challenged them with going into this game with because the last two games we’ve been beaten on the boards.

“I just talked to them in the locker room about ingredients. All these guys have certain ingredients they bring to this team. You can have these individual ingredients sitting all over the table but until you mix them and put them together and everybody does their part, you’re never going to end up with whatever you want for your finished product. We’ve got the ingredients there to be really good but we’ve got to add consistency.”
McGee led all scorers with 23 points and 11 rebounds and senior forward Andra Bailey had eight points and 10 rebounds. Rico Pierrevilus, Marky Nolen and Courtney Ingram each finished with six points.

McKenzie led Fort Hays (17-8, 11-8 MIAA) with 18 points, plus six rebounds and three assists. Morse and Russell added 11 and 10 points, respectively, and MIAA rebounding leader Matt Simmons held down the fort inside with eight points, 15 boards and three blocks.

Pitt State (14-13, 10-10), locked into the No. 7 seed for the MIAA Tournament, closes out its regular season at home against Northeastern State. Four seniors — Bailey, Ray, Drake Green and Adrian Herrera — play their final games at John Lance Arena.

PITTSBURG STATE (60) — JaVon McGee 9-20 5-9 23, Andra Bailey 4-8 0-1 8, Rico Pierrevilus 3-6 0-0 6, Courtney Ingram 1-5 4-7 6, Marky Nolen 2-4 2-4 6, Drake Green 1-5 2-2 4, Eric Ray 1-5 1-1 3, Arjok Guguai 1-2 0-0 1, Sam Pugh 0-2 2-2 2, Ian Ponds 0-5 0-0 0. Totals: 22-62 16-26 60.
FORT HAYS STATE (66) — Karron McKenzie 8-13 1-4 18, Kendrick Morse 3-6 3-6 11, Lance Russell 3-8 2-4 10, Matt Simmons 3-6 2-4 8, Moses Dayee 3-10 0-0 8, Sean Dreiling 2-3 2-2 7, Omar McDade 1-3 2-4 4, K.C. Rodenburg 0-2 0-0 0, Markus Yarbrough 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-51 12-24 66.
Halftime — FHSU 29, PSU 26. 3-point goals — PSU 0-10 (Ingram 0-3, Ponds 0-3, Pierrevilus 0-2, Green 0-1, Nolen 0-1), FHSU 8-20 (Morse 2-2, Dayee 2-5, Russell 2-5, Dreiling 1-2, McKenzie 1-2, McDade 0-2). Rebounds — PSU 48 (McGee 11), FHSU 31 (Simmons 15). Assists — PSU 8 (Bailey, Nolen, Pugh 2), FHSU 13 (Dreiling, McKenzie 3). Turnovers — PSU 16, FHSU 11. Steals — PSU 8 (Ray 4), FHSU 7 (Russell 3). Blocked shots — PSU 2, FHSU 4 (Simmons 3). Personal fouls — PSU 21, FHSU 21. Fouled out — Green, PSU.