PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State men’s basketball team knocked off Lincoln in round one of the MIAA playoffs 81-60 on Tuesday inside John Lance Arena.
Despite falling behind in the early going, the Gorillas bounced back by shooting 56% from the field in the second half after going 9-28 in the first.
“We just weren’t making shots in the first 10 minutes,” PSU head coach Kim Anderson said. “I thought we were a little stagnant and didn’t have the level of energy we needed to have, but then we got it going and went on a 17-0 run. It wasn’t pretty necessarily, but we were able to get out in front. That run at the end of the first half gave me confidence that we’d be able to make shots in the second half.”
Pitt State struggled to begin the contest, but rallied back from a nine-point deficit by scoring 17 consecutive points to go up 26-18 with two minutes remaining before the half.
The run was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Jaxon Holden and included five points by Xavier Adams.
The Gorillas went on to build the lead to eight before a 3-pointer by the Blue Tigers narrowed the gap to 31-26 at the end of the first half.
Three more points for the Blue Tigers to begin the second half put them to within two points of tying the game, but four 3-pointers from Grant Lozoya, Dakota Jones, Demetrius Levarity and Holden lifted Pitt State to a 16-1 run which cushioned the lead to 49-32.
PSU continued to knock down shots in the remaining 15 minutes, out scoring the Blue Tigers 26-10 down the stretch to secure the win.
“We wanted to put the hammer down early if we could,” Anderson said. “We really wanted to force the ball to the basket and press them to make them play a little faster than they wanted to. We were able to make some shots and they did a good job of coming back, much like they did when we last played them. Credit to our guys for hanging in there.”
Levarity recorded a double-double in the win, scoring 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two assists.
Donovan Franklin was the team leader in scoring with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The win earns the Gorillas a trip to Kansas City, where they will take on Northwest Missouri in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.