PITTSBURG — Eric Ray hit a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining to turn a one-point deficit into a two-point lead and Pitt State outscored Missouri Western, 5-1, from there to claim a 77-71 victory in the MIAA opener for both schools Wednesday (Nov. 30).
Pitt State (5-2, 1-0 MIAA) placed four players in double figures, with Ray, JaVon McGee and Drake Green each contributing 17 points. Andra Bailey added 10 second-half points after being held scoreless in the first half.
Bailey and McGee each grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds as both players posted double-doubles.
Western (5-2, 0-1 MIAA) got 13 points from T.J. Johnson, 12 from Dylan Frantz and 10 apiece from Shawn Tarver and James Harris.
The Griffons shot 53.6 percent (30-56) from the field in the contest, compared to 42.6 percent (26-61) from the Gorillas, but Pitt State outscored Western, 22-6, at the foul line. The Gorillas also owned a 20-4 advantage on the offensive glass in the contest.
Western took a 65-59 lead on Delonta Mitchell's 3-pointer with 5:52 to play in the game, but the Gorillas put together an 8-0 run to go in front, 67-65, on McGee's dunk with 3:22 remaining.
After Frantz tied the game for the 11th time in the second half at 69-69, he added a free throw to complete a three-point play and a 70-69 Western lead with 1:36 to play.
Ray then hit a transition 3-pointer eight seconds later.
Both teams traded misses, before Courtney Ingram made one of two free throws for Pitt State with 55 seconds left.
Frantz missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer for the Griffons and Ray was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one but Eric Marshall came away with the loose ball and Green subsequently was fouled.
Green made his charity shots with 22 ticks left and Bailey added two more free throws with 11 seconds remaining to effectively seal the win.
Pitt State will return to action Saturday (Dec. 3) when the Gorillas travel to Kirksville, Mo., to face Truman at 3:30 p.m. The Bulldogs dropped an 89-43 road decision to No. 2 Missouri Southern Wednesday.