JOPLIN, Mo. — No. 11 Pittsburg State women’s basketball trailed by as much as 10 points in the second quarter before rallying for a 77-62 win over Missouri Southern State inside the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center on Saturday.
Pitt State (19-3, 11-2 MIAA) led Missouri Southern (11-11, 6-7 MIAA) for much of the first half until the Lions went on a 15-2 run over a five-minute span to build a 10-point advantage with two minutes left in the first half. The Gorilla women responded with the final eight points of the second quarter and regained the lead early in the third quarter with a 12-4 run, battling back and forth with MSSU until pulling away in the final quarter.
Pitt State shot 60 percent (33-55) from the field, while holding the Lions to 44.2 percent (23-52).
MSSU outrebounded PSU 30-26, but the Gorilla women were plus-nine in the turnover margin, 19-10. Pitt State turned the advantage into 20 points off turnovers, compared to seven by the Lions.
Pitt State had a trio of players finish in double-figure scoring, led by Mikaela Burgess’ 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting. She added three steals, two rebounds and an assist.
Paige Lungwitz poured in 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, adding three rebounds and three assists.
Shelby Lopez finished with 10 points, all in the second half, on 4-of-6 shooting.
Haydn Herlocker had a team-high eight assists, a team-high six rebounds and seven points, to go along with two steals and just one turnover.
Desirea Buerge led the Lions in scoring with 19 points, finishing with a double-double after grabbing 10 rebounds in the loss.
Deb Holcomb added 11 points and four rebounds.
The Gorilla women held a seven-point lead six minutes into the game, but the Lions whittled it down to one possession two minutes into the second period.
MSSU outscored PSU 15-2 over over the next five minutes of game action to take a 33-23 lead with 2:36 to play in the first half.
Buerge accounted for four points of the run, which saw 3-pointers made by Shannon Mitchell and Jenson Maydew.
Pitt State closed the first half with the final eight points, with Lungwitz providing half of the run with a pair of free throws and an inside score, to trim the deficit to 33-31, in favor of MSSU, by the intermission.
Out of the break, the Lions got a basket from Holcomb to start before Burgess knocked down a triple and followed with a drive for a score to give the Gorilla women a 36-35 lead with 7:31 to play in the third.
Pitt State pushed the lead to six off a 3-pointer from Lungwitz, part of a 12-4 run to start the second half.
The lead was traded between both teams during the remainder of the third quarter until Pitt State outscored Missouri Southern 30-14 in the fourth quarter to take the win.
The Gorilla women had separate runs of nine unanswered and 10 unanswered in the fourth, the second of which was highlighted by five points from Burgess as well as a 3-pointer from Lopez and a jumper from Herlocker to put PSU up 19, 75-56, with 1:27 to play.
Pitt State returns home for a matchup with No. 14 Central Missouri at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 at John Lance Arena.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.