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  • PSU ends losing streak, beats MSSU 94-91

  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas and their cross-state rival Missouri Southern played another hoops classic Wednesday night.

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas and their cross-state rival Missouri Southern played another hoops classic Wednesday night.
    The Gorillas held on for a 94-91 win and ended a two-game losing streak, never giving up an early lead despite several moments when Pitt State veered on the edge of another collapse at home.
    “I think there’s some similarities in the fact (Southern) came back,” Pitt State head coach Kevin Muff said. “Baptist was a total collapse. I thought we were still doing some good things defensively (against Southern). We had some matchup problems where we had to start subbing and going a little bit smaller. (Jordan) Talbert took advantage of that with two putbacks late because we were small and didn’t box him out. Give him credit for that.”
    Pitt State already enjoyed a 18-9 lead only 5 minutes, 43 seconds into the contest — shooting 7-for-11 from the field, 3-5 from 3-point range — and the Gorillas later entered the bonus at the 13:45 mark of the first half. Muff said the Gorillas played their best 20 minutes of defense all year.
    As the Gorillas built their 49-32 halftime advantage, five players neared double figures and three reached 10. Rico Pierrevilus led the way with 11 points, Kaleb Porter and Marky Nolen had 10 apiece, Jake Bullard nine and A.J. Adams eight.
    Only 18 days after the infamous Southwest Baptist home loss, the Lions came out of the intermission with the first eight points and within 1:54 after halftime, the Gorilla lead was already single-digits, 49-40.
    Unlike the earlier game, Pitt State made enough plays down the stretch.
    “We knew they’d come back,” Muff said. “We just tried to squelch their run. Probably blew a timeout. Probably should have saved two going down the stretch. That’s a mistake on my part. . . . We found a way to get it done.”
    Some of the highlights:
    • Adams scored a career-high 26 points, his first 20-point game for the Gorillas. His old-fashioned three-point play gave Pitt State a 77-65 lead and his putback of a Porter miss put the Gorillas ahead 83-73 with 3:44 remaining. Adams’ biggest shot of the night gave the Gorillas a 89-86 lead with 27 ticks left. He shot 10-14 from the field.
    • With the Gorillas only ahead 89-88, Porter broke free of the Lion pressure, attacked the basket with the dribble, finished at the rim over Cameron Cornelius and made his free throw for a 92-88 lead with 15 seconds left. Porter shot 7-9 free throws.
    • Denton Hays closed out the scoring with a pair of foul shots, including a bank shot for the final point. Hays, shooting his foul shots with only 0.9 seconds remaining, was attempting to miss intentionally on the second with a two-point lead.
    • Marky Nolen gave Pitt State a 69-58 lead with a 3.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Courtney Ingram made a pair of free throws for a 66-56 advantage after Matt Emerson of Southern intentionally fouled Ingram rather than allow an uncontested dunk.
    Five Gorillas finished in double figures — Adams 26, Porter 19, Nolen 16, Pierrevilus 16 and Bullard 10. This win came after back-to-back road losses to Emporia State (88-82) and Central Oklahoma (92-76). The Gorillas started their three true freshmen from Oklahoma — Porter, Bullard and Hays — Wednesday.
    "Last game out, I probably was as low as a coach since I've been here at Pitt State," Muff said. "I didn't think we showed any toughness, any fight, any effort on the defensive end. It was very frustrating and one of the bright spots in that game was Denton Hays. Another bright spot, for the most part, was Jake, Kaleb. You know, if those guys are going to step up and do what we ask them to do on a consistent basis, let's go. They're going to do it right. They're going to hedge screens. Denton does a good job of hedging, getting back and trying to make plays. He's tough, he's physical for a freshman. In valuable minutes, he gave us a good look tonight."
    Pitt State improved to 16-9, 9-8 MIAA and Missouri Southern dropped to 12-13, 7-10. The Gorillas close out their regular season Saturday at home with Emporia State.
    "They're excited about Emporia State," Muff said. "That's the first thing they (the players) mentioned after I left the locker room. Emporia State, Saturday. That's where our focus is, just getting ready for them. I thought up there, it could have been a winnable game for us. Obviously, we didn't get it done. We need to be ready for them and we feel like we owe them one. We could turn around and have to play them again on Monday. That could easily happen."

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