JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern State men’s basketball pulled away in the second half to defeat Pittsburg State 88-70 Saturday inside the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center.

The Gorilla men (4-17, 2-11 MIAA) battled the Lions (14-8, 8-5 MIAA) to 39-all tie by the intermission, but Missouri Southern built a double-digit advantage midway through the second half and held that pace over the remainder of the contest.

PSU was outrebounded by MSSU, 37-28, but was near even in turnover margin, 15-13. Points off of turnovers fell in favor of the Lions, 20-11.

Pitt State shot 42.6 percent (23-54) from the field as a team, adding 7-of-19 shooting from 3-point land.

Jordan Phelps led the way in the loss with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

R.J. Pair added 16 points, one assist and one rebound for the Gorillas.

Elijah Gaines scored nine, while Isaiah Hicks added four points and six rebounds.

Missouri Southern shot 54.1 percent (33-61) from the field as a team.

The Lions had five players finish in double figures, with C.J. Carr and J.J. Cratit each scoring 17 points in the win. Carr finished with a double-double, dishing out 16 assists in the win.

Lawrence Brown also had a double-double for the Lions, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Kinzer Lambert came off the bench with 15 points.

Elyjah Clark contributed 10 points and six rebounds.

Missouri Southern opened the second half with nine straight points to take a 48-39 lead two and a half minutes in.

Pitt State scored five unanswered, three points from Christian Edmondson and jumper from Pair, to make the score 54-52 with 12:46 to play in the game.

It was a Lions’ takeover from that point, as Missouri Southern went on a 20-4 run to take a 74-56 lead with 7:17 remaining, pulling away to the win.

Cratit accounted for eight of the points, while Carr added four points and three assists during the span.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pitt State will play without Jaxon Holden for the remainder of the season because of a head injury sustained in PSU’s win over Northeastern State on Jan. 28. Holden, along with Josiah Gustafson and Dakota Jones, is the third Gorilla starter lost for the season.

UP NEXT

Pitt State hosts Central Missouri in a 7:30 p.m. matchup on Feb. 8 at John Lance Arena.

-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at ldavis@morningsun.net and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.