Morning Sun
  • Pitt State women rally, but end season in loss

  • Missouri Western senior Brittany Griswold shot the Griffons into the quarterfinals of the MIAA Postseason Tournament during a 71-67 win Tuesday night over host Pittsburg State.

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  • Missouri Western senior Brittany Griswold shot the Griffons into the quarterfinals of the MIAA Postseason Tournament during a 71-67 win Tuesday night over host Pittsburg State.
    Griswold led the Griffons with 19 points and her five 3-point shots proved the difference in a close ball game. Griswold was averaging 6.9 points and had made 8-for-32 3-point goals entering Tuesday. Late in the game, Griswold hit a pair of money 3s.
    “Griswold played the game of her career,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said. “She hit two big 3s down the stretch. . . . We wanted to get a hand up on her because we knew she had the ability to do that. They get us in mismatch problems because we’re playing our bigs. We had a hand in her face at the end both times. She had a career night. Players make plays and she made two huge plays.”
    The Griffons used scoring runs of 15-4 and 16-2 to gain a 42-32 halftime lead but Pitt State clawed its way back after halftime and even went ahead on Western late in the contest.
    However, Pitt State miscues and Western big shots ended Pitt State’s season.
    “We dug a big hole,” Lord said. “To our kids credit, we showed a lot of character, a lot of courage, came all the way back. We get the free throw to tie it and we get a free throw to take the lead and we had the lane violation. Then, they came down and made just three big-time shots in a row.
    “Got to credit their kids, they made plays down the stretch. I thought our kids did too. That 3 was a dagger right after we had taken a two-point lead (64-62). . . . We really showed a lot of heart, a lot of courage. It’s been a crazy year. A lot of ups and downs. Proud of our group. A little different song from last year, that’s for sure. It’s disappointing but that’s why you play.”
    Pitt State ends its season 17-10, a year after the best season in school history (27-6) with a trip to the Elite Eight in San Antonio. The Gorillas lost their last three games of the season at home, coming off a season-long winning streak.
    “It will take some time to reflect,” Lord said. “We just had adversity after adversity. I don’t know as coaches if we handled it good enough. As players, I don’t know. We had a lot of things not go in our favor as far as injuries. Different kids in and out all year long. Big loss in Hailey Roderique. That being said, we had a five-game winning streak with the players that we had. It was a young team that will get better if they want to and be real successful again.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Pitt State trailed by as many as 40-22 during a first half where the Gorillas never led and enjoyed only a single tie score at 2-all early on. The Griffon lead was already double-digits by the 15:48 mark of the first half, 15-4.
    Seventeen personal fouls on Western resulted in 26 free throw attempts in the first 20 minutes or 1.3 free throw attempts per minute. That was the good news for Pitt State and the bad news was that Pitt State made only half of its 26 attempts, leaving several points on the board during a 10-point halftime deficit. The Gorillas also committed 11 turnovers.
    Pitt State went on a 10-0 run to go from behind 15-4 to down only 15-14. Sophomore forward Lizzy Jeronimus scored the first seven Gorilla points and her old-fashioned three-point play at the 14:48 mark gave her career points 1,000-1,002. Jeronimus became the 17th player in school history to reach one grand.
    Trailing 40-22 late in the first half, Pitt State answered with a 10-2 spurt to end the half down by 10, 42-32. Coaches always talk about getting that lead down to 10 before halftime.
    Senior guard Drew Roberts, playing her final home game, started this run with a 3, giving her 1,042 career points, good for 12th in school history.
    Foul trouble hurt both teams. Freshman post Kylie Gafford picked up three personals for the Gorillas in only 6 minutes on the court and Western seasonal leading scorer Heather Howard (averaging nearly a double-double with 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds per game) spent 8 minutes on the court in the first 20 after two fouls.
    Howard opened the second half with a bucket, then Pitt State responded with six unanswered to draw to 44-38 with 16:38 remaining and force Western head coach Rod Edmisson into a timeout.
    Alexa Bordewick scored her first points, followed by back-to-back interior baskets from Lauren Brown and Jeronimus.
    Five points by Western guard Lanicia Lawrence, including an old-fashioned three-point play with a second left on the shot clock, put the lead back to 49-40 and another Pitt State turnover resulted in a basket for the speedy JaQuitta Dever. Dever missed her free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play but the Griffons led 51-40 after Pitt State had made it 44-38 and 46-40.
    Pitt State drew its second tie score, 58-all, on a 10-0 run but Jeronimus missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give Pitt State its first lead of the night.
    Jeronimus broke a 60-all score with a bank shot with 92 seconds remaining, giving Pitt State its first advantage.
    Y'Cedria Devers, who had struggles at the line, gave Pitt State its final lead on two free throws, 64-62.
    After Griswold hit a 3 for an one-point lead, 65-64, a lane violation cost Pitt State a chance to regain the lead with Brigit Hesser at the foul line. Then, on the subsequent possession, Griswold put Western back up 68-65 on a 3 with the shot clock sprinting toward zero.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I thought once we took the lead, we had momentum,” Lord said. “We had the crowd. We had everything going in our favor. But she (Griswold) hit the big shot.”
    Jeronimus led all scorers with 25 points and had four rebounds, five assists. She finished the season with 1,020 career points, good for 16th all-time.
    Roberts ended with six points, four rebounds and two assists in her last game. Her 1,045 career points rank her (strangely enough) No. 12 in school history.
    In her final career game, Brown had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
    Brown finished her career with 142 blocks, second in school history behind Larissa Richards.
    Roberts, Brown and Pittsburg native Lisa Elmer suited up for the final time in a Pitt State uniform.
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