Morning Sun
  • PSU men score 8 in last minute to beat Truman St.

  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas buckled down in the final minute of their MIAA Postseason Tournament first-round game Monday night against Truman State.

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas buckled down in the final minute of their MIAA Postseason Tournament first-round game Monday night against Truman State.
    The Gorillas scored eight points in the final minute, including seven in 16 seconds, and gave Truman State a 70-62 loss. The win keeps Pitt State’s season alive and advances the Gorillas (18-9) into the quarterfinal round Thursday against No. 2 seed Central Missouri in Kansas City, Mo. The game Thursday tips at approximately 6 p.m.
    The four Pitt State seniors — JaVon McGee, Courtney Ingram, Marky Nolen and Rico Pierrevilus — won their final home game.
    Ahead 63-62, Pitt State took over possession with 46 seconds left after Seth Jackson split his free throws which could have earned Truman a tie score with both makes.
    Muff talked about strategy in the ensuing Pitt State huddle and what happened during the 29-second possession.
    “We thought about two-for-one,” Muff said. “With the clock at 46, maybe a 11-second differential. Kaleb coming off that screen to get a quick one or hit Rico on a pop. Tipped it so we decided we’ll run something and when we put Rico back in . . . his body language wasn’t good. I thought for a senior on his last game, I just didn’t think there was a lot of flying around and activity on his part. I put him back in in the end and said ‘Alright, here’s your chance.’
    “Coach Stock (assistant coach Ryan Stock) called the play. It had been there earlier, he had hit one out of it. There’s his chance and he stepped up and took it with confidence. More power to him. His team needed him to do it and he found a way to do it. I’m happy for him.”
    Pierrevilus drained a 3 in perfect rhythm to give Pitt State a 66-62 advantage, then came two defensive plays which resulted in steals turned into points via slam dunks.
    Freshman guard-forward Jake Bullard had been a thorn in Truman’s side all night Monday with points (14), rebounds (10) and steals (three). With 11 seconds remaining, Jackson committed a turnover, Bullard made a steal and his slam dunk gave Pitt State a six-point edge with 7 ticks remaining.
    “He (Jackson) was coming down the court,” Bullard said. “I guess he was looking to make a quick play. He dished it too fast and it rolled off the back of his hand. I thought ‘I’m going to put this away. I ain’t messing this up.’ It just happened.”
    Another turnover resulted in a Pitt State steal and slam, this slam by senior McGee for points No. 11 and No. 12 of the night.
    The Gorillas made some big defensive plays when they were needed most.
    “Our defense is predicated off put your boots on, get your pick axe out and dig trenches on you,” Muff said. “That’s kind of the analogy we use and that’s the approach you’ve got to take. It’s not fun.
    Page 2 of 2 - “You’re not going to write it up, ‘Defense wins games.’ It’s all about offense and that’s who gets the pub. We kind of compare it to prom. Getting the pretty girl on your shoulder in a limousine, that’s offense but defense, there’s not a lot that goes with it in terms of fame or notoriety. It takes a special mentality to be a good defender.”
    The three freshmen starters — Bullard, point guard Kaleb Porter and forward Denton Hays — continued to make their contributions.
    “I thought Jake, more than anything what Jake did, hustle plays and big rebounds,” Muff said. “Marky Nolen-type plays. It’s really good to see that because losing Marky next year, our energy guy, it’s going to be hard to replace. He’s growing up in a hurry.
    “Kaleb’s growing up. I thought he did a better job second half of moving the ball and getting us in our offense. He’s going to have some have nights whenever we need a shot he’ll knock it down.
    “Denton really brings a lot to us defensively. He’s a good hedger. He let (Mike) Carlson get a couple on him on the pick and pop they run. . . . He’s learning. What Denton doesn’t give us offensively, the other guys can.”
    Porter led Pitt State with 19 points and had four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
    Nolen added 11 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
    Pitt State led 27-25 at halftime, playing a game more conducive to the guests from Kirksville, Mo.
    “Give Truman credit because they were very physical with us and packing it against us,” Muff said. “We anticipated them being more of a soft show on the on-ball. They hard hedged us and got us out of rhythm. I thought their defensive gameplan was good going in. I thought our adjustment at halftime was good. We spaced it a little more, took on the hedge, then we lost our aggressiveness. Courtney (Ingram) was good there for a while and we subbed and lost some of our aggressiveness.”
    “We played really good defense,” Bullard said. “We rebounded well. We played together. We found each other. We shared the ball and played good defense.”
    Pitt State led 42-32 only 5:05 after halftime before a Truman State comeback made the game a seesaw affair the final 8:47.
    Mike Carlson of Truman State led all players with 22 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.

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