You can doubt the Pittsburg State men’s basketball team at your own risk.
That’s what head coach Kevin Muff and the rest of the team wants.
Since the Gorillas’ six-game losing skid, Pittsburg State has won three of its last four, which included a 70-66 win over the Lindenwood Lions on Thursday night.
“There were a lot of people who were doubting us,” Muff said to Eddie Lomshek of KKOW in his post game interview. “Keep doubting us because we’ll make big runs and win games. This is a great group and I’m proud of them. We had great performances from different players. To get a win against a good team like Lindenwood is great. We had a lot of guys who answered the call tonight. I’m proud of our defensive effort."
The Gorillas (10-8 overall, 5-6 in the MIAA Conference) turned a first-half deficit of 10 points into a five-point hole at the half before rushing out to a 12-point second-half lead.
Lindenwood fell to 12-6 overall and 8-4 in the MIAA.
Josiah Gustafson scored 21 points to lead the Gorillas, while Dakota Jones and Denton Hays had 15 points each.
Gustafson went 7 of 13 on field goals, including a 3-pointer. He was a perfect from the free-throw line, making all six attempts.
Jones shot 6 of 12 on field goals and was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers, while Hays was 7 of 12 from the floor.
Trey Starks finished with 12 points for the night.
“Hays is one of those guys who answered for us,” Muff said. “He played for his life. He just kept making plays all night. We had other players who played great. Our three guards played great. Javis Flynn, Trey Starks and Dakota Jones, they had their hands full and held Lindenwood down. Credit to our guys for their resiliency. Dakota Jones struggled in the first half but he improved in the second half.”
PSU had 25 total rebounds, nine of which came on offense and 16 on defense.
“I think we had great defensive boards,” Muff said. “I thought when we made our run, they were shooting off shots and we broke them.”
The Lions had 37 total rebounds, 14 on offense and 23 on defense.
Javis Flynn may not have scored, but managed four rebounds (two from offense and two on defense) as well as four assists and two steals.
“You got to have Javis in the end,” Muff said. “He gave us good options. You have to increase your physicality when the game gets physical. It opens up that window to get shots off. Dakota also did a good job of making shots down the stretch.”
Cory Arentsen had 27 points to lead the Lions, going 11 of 19 on field goals and was 5 of 10 on 3-pointers. LJ McIntosh had 13 points, while Zachary Biggs finished the night going 4 of 8 on field goals for eight points. Brad Newman scored six points.
A 3-pointer by Arentsen gave the Lions a 61-60 lead with 2:31 left in the game before Jones hit a jumper to respond.
A tip-in by Hays made it a three point game with 33 seconds left.
A foul by Chandler Diekvoss after a defensive rebound by Flynn from a 3-pointer miss by Arentsen sent Gustafon to the line. He made both shots and the Gorillas had a five-point advantage.
Brad Newman hit two charities to make it a one-possession game, but Gustafson sank both free throws.
McIntosh did manage a 3-pointer with six seconds left to pull the Lions to within two, but the Gorillas continued to hit their shots from the line as Gustafson made both to put the game out of reach.
The Gorillas will stay on the road this weekend as they face Lincoln in their next game on Saturday in Jefferson City, Missouri.
“I think we’ll do great things in the second half of the season,” Muff said. “There’s not a lot of time to enjoy this win since we don’t have much time until our next game. But we’re going to get back to doing what we do. If we can improve a little more on defense, we’ll be dangerous.”
Pitt State women deal Lindenwood a home loss
The Pittsburg State women’s basketball team cruised to a 19-9 first-quarter lead and held on for an 87-74 win over Lindenwood in St. Charles, Missouri, on Thursday night.
Mikaela Burgess was the scoring leader for the Gorilla women. She finished the night in double figures with 24 points, 14 of which came in the second half as she recorded four 3-pointers.
Cathy Brugman scored 19 points, with 15 coming in the second half. She was a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line.
PSU improved to 14-4 overall and 8-4 in the MIAA Conference. The Lions fell to 7-11 overall and 3-9 in conference play.
Kylie Gafford and Hadyn Herlocker both scored 13 points. Gafford came up short of a double-double with nine rebounds. Herlocker had a team-high four assists.
The Gorillas were 47.2 percent from the field, going 25 of 53, while the Lions went 25 of 55 from the field for 45.5 percent.
PSU went 27 of 32 from the free-throws line, while the Lions were 19 of 26.
ittsburg State made 10-of-24 3-pointers for 41.7 percent, while Lindenwood made 5 of 15 from beyond the arc for 33.3 percent.
The Gorillas held the Lions scoreless for the last three minutes of the first quarter and jumped out to an 8-0 run which was helped by consecutive 3-pointers from Elena Flott.
The Lions went on a 6-0 run in the second quarter before the Gorillas responded with a double-digit advantage to take a 12-point lead off a Brugman jumper.
Lindenwood never went away but the Gorillas never let up, having a lead between seven and 10 points for the remainder of the first half, leading 37-30 into the locker room at the intermission.
The Lions did find a way back in the game with an early third-quarter run which brought them to within two points, but PSU wasn’t to be denied. The Gorillas responded with a 10-3 run to end the third quarter and extending their lead back to 10.
PSU never led by less than seven the rest of the night.
Pitt State managed to score 12 of their 24 points in the fourth quarter from the free-throw line.
Jenny Rocha had a strong night for the Lions, scoring 26 points and going 9 of 17 on shooting from the field. It was Rocha’s second career 20-plus point game on the season as well as in her career. She was 8 of 12 from the charity stripe, while Kassidy Gengenbacher dropped 18 points and had a team-high eight rebounds. The Lions were out-rebounded 36-26 and PSU scored 10 3-pointers.
Pittsburg State will next face Lincoln in Jefferson City, Missouri on Saturday while the Lions will take on Missouri Southern state at home.
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.