MARYVILLE, Mo. — On a night when Pittsburg State made less than 40 percent of its free throws and Northwest Missouri committed 15 turnovers, Pitt State made just enough free throws and Hailey Roderique stole one last Northwest pass to close out a 57-55 victory in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association opener Thursday night at Bearcat Arena. The Gorillas shot 58 percent (11-for-19) from the field in the second half to help overcome 7-18 free throws and defensively, Y'Cedria Devers again played lock down defense on Northwest's leading scorer Ariel Easton, and Lizzy Jeronimus and Cathy Brugman came through with late blocked shots on Northwest guard Ashleigh Nelson, who led all scorers with 18 points. "I tell you what, they're hard to play," Pitt State head coach Lane Lord told Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. "But one thing I was very happy with was 11-for-19 from the floor in the second half. We did touch the post, Alex Muff probably had her best game of the year going 4-5 and we got the ball inside. We're really struggling to score right now. We'll get that fixed but credit Northwest. They do a great job and when they went to the zone, we really got flustered." Antqunita Reed, Muff and Devers shot a combined 13-17 (76.4 percent) from the field and Reed shared the team lead in scoring with Jeronimus at 11, while Muff added 10 and Devers nine. Devers seemed to thrive against Northwest on both ends of the floor, including her four steals Thursday night. "It started with Easton," Lord said. "That's two games in a row and Y'Cedria Devers has just been awesome. The first game, she (Easton) came in averaging 21 a game and Y held her to five points. Tonight, Y holds her to 2-11, she only had seven points and Y'Cedria played 34 minutes because Ariel Easton played 31. We were going to keep Y in there the whole time on her but she was playing so well, hitting jumpers and we had to leave her in there, she was doing too good a job." Jeronimus added six rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Morgan Westhoff, whom Coach Lord said possesses the only true green light to shoot from 3 on the Gorillas (no yellow, no red), made a timely 3-pointer to give the Gorillas a 55-48 advantage. "She hit a big three for us down the stretch," Lord said. "She missed three but she hit a big one there at the end. It was a great pass from Lizzy to find her and it got tipped a little bit, Morgan handled it and made a big shot for us." Lord also praised the play of freshman reserves Hadyn Herlocker and Paige Lungwitz. In five first-half minutes, Herlocker scored five points on 2-2 from the floor, including a trifecta, dished one assist and helped Pitt State earn a 28-all halftime score. Lord applauded Lungwitz for an interior feed to Muff. "We had two freshmen step up and play huge tonight," Lord said. "Hadyn Herlocker, no fear, five points in 10 minutes, one assist and no turnovers. Great job on our pick-and-roll of taking it to the basket. She's just an awfully good competitor. Real proud of her. We were really struggling with our guards and we bring in Hadyn, we bring in Paige Lungwitz. . . . We've just been begging to get the ball inside on the break and Paige does it every time. She did it down at Quincy. Just a real big play for her. Those kids listen and I'm real proud of them tonight." Pitt State improved to 6-3 and the Gorillas do not play again until Dec. 18, a home game against former MIAA opponent Truman State. On MIAA opening night, Central Missouri handed Fort Hays State its first loss of the season, 72-51. Keuna Flax led the Jennies with 18 points, 12 rebounds and Shelby Winkelmann and Revonnia Howard each added 14 points, five rebounds. The Jennies outrebounded the Tigers 52-34. Kate Lehman paced Fort Hays with 16 points, 11 rebounds on a night when the Tigers shot below 30 percent from the field. Missouri Southern improved to 6-1 on the season with a 76-72 win over Nebraska-Kearney at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. Dominique Mosley led three Lions in double figures with 22 points and had seven rebounds, four steals, one block and one assist to go along with her big night scoring the basketball. Sharese Jones added 16 points and Alexis Fitzpatrick 13. Amarah Williams led the Lopers with 22. Washburn defeated Southwest Baptist 78-71 behind 27 points by Casyn Buchman and 20 by Brittney Lynch. Lynch proved a beast with 17 rebounds, helping the Ichabods outrebound the Bearcats 49-40. Dilonna Johnson led Baptist with 19 points, while Lissette Plasencia had 14, Brook Duncan 12 and Morgan Lucy 11. Northeastern State defeated Lincoln 66-53 behind 17 points from Chelsey Beathard and 14 from Fontana Tate. Hunter Yoakum led the Blue Tigers with 15 points. Lindenwood defeated Central Oklahoma 78-71. GORILLAS 57, BEARCATS 55 PITTSBURG STATE (6-3) — Antqunita Reed 5-7 1-1 11, Lizzy Jeronimus 5-12 1-3 11, Alex Muff 4-5 2-3 10, Y'Cedria Devers 4-5 1-4 9, Hadyn Herlocker 2-3 0-1 5, Kylie Gafford 2-3 0-0 4, Morgan Westhoff 1-4 0-0 3, Alexa Bordewick 1-5 0-0 2, Brigit Hesser 0-1 1-2 1, Cathy Brugman 0-1 1-2 1, Paige Lungwitz 0-1 0-0 0, Hailey Roderique 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 24-47 7-18 57. NORTHWEST MISSOURI (2-5) — Ashleigh Nelson 6-13 3-4 18, Ariel Easton 2-11 2-2 7, Monique Stevens 2-5 2-2 7, Annie Mathews 3-6 0-0 6, Alexandria Blaurock 2-3 2-2 6, Shelby Mustain 2-6 1-2 5, Tember Schechinger 1-3 2-2 4, Meridde Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Ashley Guenther 0-1 0-0 0, Kena Veldhuizen 0-0 0-0 0, Denise McEnaney 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-51 12-14 55. Halftime — 28-28. 3-point goals — PSU 2-8 (Herlocker 1-2, Westhoff 1-4, Bordewick 0-1, Brugman 0-1), NWMSU 5-16 (Nelson 3-5, Stevens 1-3, Easton 1-7, Schechinger 0-1). Assists — PSU 9 (Jeronimus 3), NWMSU 11 (Mustain, Mathews 3). Turnovers — PSU 14, NWMSU 15. Steals — PSU 11 (Devers 4), NWMSU 6 (Easton 3). Blocked shots — PSU 5 (Jeronimus 3), NWMSU 4 (Mustain 3). Personal fouls — PSU 15, NWMSU 16. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — Gafford, PSU. A — 445.