KEARNEY, Neb. — The Pittsburg State men’s basketball team failed to halt their losing skid as they dropped a 91-75 decider to the Nebraska Kearney Lopers on the road Monday.
The Lopers improved to 7-5 overall and 4-3 in the MIAA, while the Gorillas moved to 7-7 and 2-6 in the MIAA with a sixth consecutive loss.
Pittsburg State’s shooting was cold in the first half as the Lopers took a 40-28 lead at the intermission before the Gorillas improved in the second, scoring 47 points.
Nebraska Kearney mustered 51 second-half points to maintain their 16-point win.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Pittsburg State head coach Kevin Muff to Eddie Lomshek of KKOW. “I thought we played as great as we could on defense and then got our offense going in the second half. But as I told the players, this is getting redundant. It’s getting old. I have to find a better way to get some answers. The players are doing what they can.”
Connor Beranek scored 25 points on 7 of 18 from the field. He made 11 of 12 on free throws, while Ethan Brozek went 8 for 15 from the floor and made all four shots from the free-throw line for 20 points.
Senior Trey Starks scored 19 points to lead the Gorillas, going 7 for 10 on field goals with two 3-pointers and three free throws.
Junior Josiah Gustafson, senior Lamine Dieng and sophomore Jaxon Holden each had 13 points.
Trey Lansman’s two 3-pointers at the start of the second half gave the Lopers a 47-36 lead. Ty Danielson scored a 3-point jumper before Dakota Jones responded with an outsider of his own with 16:48 left.
Dieng hit a layup and the Lopers’ lead was cut to 13.
“Dieng scored some quick baskets for us,” Muff said. “He did a good job for us. But our guards have to commit. Those guys have to help us around the perimeter."
The Lopers scored off a Carter Burns 3-pointer and PSU trailed by 15 at the 10:06 mark.
Pittsburg State kept trying to eat at the Lopers’ advantage, but Nebraska Kearney had an answer for everything the Gorillas threw at them. A Dieng layup miss was rebound by Beranek and Brozek scored a jumper on the other end of the floor with 1:10 left on the clock and the Lopers’ lead was 88-75.
“I thought we were doing a great job of challenging them and limiting them to one shot. We got something going offensively in the second half but they did a good job too,” Muff said.
The Gorillas will return home to face Central Missouri on Thursday.
“It is back to work. My mindset is what next? We need to find the right buttons to push and give some guys the right opportunity,” Muff said.
Michael Bauer is a sports reporter for the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter at @michaeljohn391.