ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - The Gorillas (11-7, 7-4) used a strong run at the end of the first half, then traded buckets for most of the second half on the way to a 69-67 victory over Missouri Western. Pittsburg State was down by as many as eight before taking the lead late in the first half and never giving it up.
JaVon McGee caught the ball at the top of the key, drove to his left and threw down a one handed slam that gave the Gorillas a 63-58 lead with 3:48 left in the contest. A three with 1:45 left by Tuluka Mfumupembe tied the game at 65-65. Two made free throws by Deionta Mitchell gave Missouri Western a two point advantage with 28 ticks left on the clock. Sam Pugh hit a deep three from the corner to give the Gorillas a 68-67 lead with 15 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Pittsburg State forced a turnover and a Western foul sent Andra Bailey to the line with 2.5 seconds remaining. Bailey's first attempt rimmed out, but his second found nothing but nylon giving PSU a 69-67 advantage. Pittsburg State stole the full court inbound pass as time expired, giving them the victory.
McGee, Bailey, and Courtney Ingram all scored in double figures for the Gorillas. McGee and Bailey tied for a team high 19 points while adding seven and six rebounds, respectively. Ingram chipped in 10 points and Rico PierreVilus added seven points off the bench for Pitt State.
The Gorillas took their first lead of the contest after a free throw put back by PierreVilus with 3:21 left in the first half. A turnover by the Griffins on the next possession led to a Bailey three that gave Pittsburg State a 29-24 advantage. A deep three as time expired gave PSU a 36-26 lead at the half.
For the game PSU shot .448 (26-58) from the field overall, .250 (5-20) from three point territory and .500 (12-24) from the free throw line. The Pitt State barely out-rebounded Missouri Western 32-31. Seventeen of the Gorillas rebounds came off the offensive glass. PSU recorded 14 steals as a team including five from Marky Nolen.
James Harris led MWSU with 21 points, Lavonte Douglass added 15, and T.J Johnson chipped in with 12 to pace the Griffons scoring attack.
The Gorillas have a home contest against Truman on Wednesday (Jan. 25) at 7:30 p.m. before heading to Warrensburg, Mo. to take on Central Missouri on Saturday (Jan. 28) at 3:30 p.m. (CST). Wednesday the Gorilla coaches and staff will be taking part in the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers promotion. The Pitt State coaches encourage all fans to come dressed to impress in suits and skirts along with their favorite sneakers.