Pittsburg State has played its way into the No. 3 seed in the MIAA Tournament. The No. 22 Gorillas will face Southwest Baptist in the MIAA Tournament Quarterfinals on Thursday, March 6 at 8:15 p.m. Pitt State's No. 3 seed is the highest it has been seeded in the MIAA Tournament since 2009.
Pitt State at the MIAA Tournament Pitt State is 10-20 in its MIAA Tournament appearances. The Gorillas have only missed the tournament two times since joining the conference, the first season (1989-90) and in 2008. PSU was one and done in its last nine tournament appearances prior to the 2009 season. The Gorillas had lost 10 games straight before earning the 81-79 win over Nebraska-Omaha in the 2009 opening round. The only time Pitt State won back-to-back games in the tournament was in 1992, when the Gorillas finished as the tournament runners up. Pitt State has lost each of its last three games in the MIAA Tournament. The team's last win was a 61-57 overtime win over Missouri Western in the 2010-11 season. Each of the team's last three losses were by single digits. In their last MIAA Tournament outing, the Gorillas lost to Missouri Western, 71-67, in Pittsburg. Last season was the first year of the conference having the 5-8 seed teams host the 9-12 seed teams in first round action at campus sites. Pitt State's largest win in the MIAA Tournament was a 26-point, 79-53, win over Missouri St-Louis in 1992, the year the team finished as the runner-up. The team's largest losses were back-to-back 20-point losses to Missouri Western and Emporia State in 2006 and 2007.
Scouting Southwest Baptist Southwest Baptist enters Thursday's quarterfinal action with a 12-15 record, including a 6-13 mark in conference play. The Bearcats defeated Washburn 85-73 on Tuesday in the MIAA Postseason Tournament First Round in Topeka, Kan.. SBU is led in scoring by All-MIAA honorable mention selection Brook Duncan.The sophomore guard averages a team-high and ranks seventh in the MIAA with 15 ppg and also pulls down 5.2 rebounds per game. Duncan has recorded a team-high 25 blocks on the season as well. Jacqui Zelenka, a Second Team All-MIAA pick, averages 14.5 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds per game. The senior forward ranks ninth in the conference in scoring and fifth in rebounding. Collectively, the Bearcats average 71.0 ppg while surrendering 70.8 ppg. The team shoots .422 (677-1604) from the field, .337 (173-514) from three-point range and .755 (391-518) from the charity stripe. SBU ranks first in the conference in free-throw shooting and second from beyond the arc.
Scouting Pittsburg State The Gorillas have now won 12 straight games, the longest win streak of the season. The streak is the second-longest in school history, bested only by the 14-game win streak by Pitt State's 2011-12 team that went to the Elite Eight. Seven of Pitt State's wins have come in the friendly confines of John Lance Arena, a place they will not play again for the rest of the season. The team finished in the MIAA standings behind only Emporia State and Central Missouri. The Gorillas also moved up one spot in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll this week to No. 22. Five of the six Gorilla losses were to teams either ranked or receiving votes in the WBCA Coaches Poll. The six losses have been by an average of less than nine points a game. The Gorillas are 12-1 in John Lance Arena and 7-3 on the road. The Gorillas outscore their opponents by 7.9 ppg, 72.1 to 64.2. Rebounding stays close between Pitt State and its opponents, 38.0 to 37.3, less than a +1 margin for the Gorillas. Pitt State shoots .430 from the floor and .330 from three-point range. The team averages just over 12 turnovers a game. Lizzy Jeronimus continues to lead the Gorillas and ranks among the best in the MIAA with 18.8 points per game. Jeronimus also leads the Gorillas with 6.6 rpg, 76 assists and 24 steals. She is second on the team with 26 blocked shots. Cathy Brugman has been on fire in conference play. After scoring in double figures in each of the last eight games and 11 of the last 13, Brugman is now the team's second-leading scorer with 9.4 ppg. She posted a career-high 24 points against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 8 and added 22 points against Emporia State on Feb. 26. She is shooting a team-high .513 overall and .474 (37-for-78) from three-point range. All but one of her threes she has made in conference play. Antqunita Reed scores 8.3 ppg and has really gotten more comfortable on the court as of late. The athletic junior has scored in double figures off the bench in nine of the last 10 games. 12 of her 14 double figure scoring games have come in league play. Alexa Bordewick adds 6.8 ppg. She is one of three players on the team that have made 30 or more threes on the season with 34 threes made. She is second on the team in assists with 47 and has a 1.8 assists/turnover ratio. Morgan Westhoff comes off the bench to add 5.5 ppg with 34 threes made this season. Y'Cedria Devers adds 4.0 rebounds per game and leads the team in offensive rebounds with 55. The tenacious guard also has 20 steals on the season. Kylie Gafford is the top shot blocker with 42 blocks this season. She is second on the team with 22 steals. Point guard Brigit Hesser has been crucial off the bench for the Gorillas, especially with her passing, as she has 44 assists on the season and a 1.6 assists/turnover ratio.
PSU vs. Southwest Baptist Pitt State and SBU have met twice a year since the 1987-88 season until last season. Pitt State has a six-game lead in the series, 30-24, after winning each of the last six games. Each team leads in its home arena, the Gorillas lead 19-10 in Pittsburg, while the Bearcats lead 14-11 in Bolivar. This will mark the first meeting between the two teams at a neutral site. Prior to the 2009-10 season SBU had won four straight over the Gorillas, the longest streak of wins by either tem in the series. The series began with each team winning only on its own court. SBU gave up the first Gorilla victory in Bolivar on Feb. 4, 1992. Pitt State won 10 straight at home before falling, 86-75 on Valentine's Day of 1996. The largest margin of victory in the series was a 37-point Pitt State win on Jan. 6, 1981, the very first meeting between the two teams. SBU's biggest win was a 82-52 win in Bolivar on Dec. 1, 1987, only the third meeting between the teams. Since then things have been more evenly matched, for the most part. The most points scored in the series was a 101-95 Bearcat win on Jan. 8, 2005 in Bolivar. Pitt State won the earlier meeting between the two teams on Feb. 4, 73-58.
Up Next Should the Gorillas win Thursday's game, they will play a 2:15 p.m. semifinal game on Saturday, March 8 against the winner of the Emporia State vs. Central Oklahoma game that will be played at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Cathy in Conference As stated earlier, Cathy Brugman has really stepped up her play for the Gorillas in conference games. Not only does her scoring average jump from 9.4 ppg overall to 12.2 in conference games, but she also shoots a team-best .522 from the floor and 54 percent from three-point range. Thirty-five of the 36 threes she has made this season have been against conference opponents. Her three-point percentage is tops in the MIAA in conference games only with a .537 (36-67). Brugman has scored in double figures in 11 of her last 13 games, including each of the last eight. The remaining two games she scored nine points. She led the Gorillas with a career-high 24 points against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 8 and added 22 more points in the win over Emporia State on Feb. 26.
Free Throw Queen Against Missouri Southern, Lizzy Jeronimus set a new school record for free throws made in a season. Jeronimus has now made 208 free throws this season, besting the record set by Leslie Dudley in 2000, 182. Jeronimus is only 13 free throws from setting a new MIAA record for free throws made in a season. The current record is 220, set by Missouri Southern's Melissa Grider during the 1995-96 season. Jeronimus ranks third on the PSU list for career free-throws made with 495. She is 42 from second place. She makes just over seven free throws a game, so will not quite be on pace to get to second this season. Leslie Dudley holds the school and MIAA record for career free throws made with 563. Jeronimus also now holds the record for free throws attempted in a season with 245. She is third on the career attempts list with 610. She is still far from the MIAA season attempts record, as Grider also holds that record with 292. Dudley holds both the school and MIAA career attempts records with 718.
She Shoots, She Scores Junior Lizzy Jeronimus is one of 17 players in school history to score 1,000 points in her career. She finished her sophomore season with 1,020 points, having scored them in 60 games, second fastest to the 1,000 point mark in school history. Now with 1,566 points, Jeronimus is the fifth leading all-time scorer, passing Kami Scrivner with 1,559 points. She needs 19 points to pass Kelly Krumsick and move into fourth place. Krumsick scored 1,584 points from 1980-83. Jeronimus will need 122 more points this season to move to third. With her current average of 18.8 points per game this season, the Gorillas would need to play seven more games for Jeronimus to move to third. Jeronimus has scored in double figures in all but nine games in her career. She has scored 20 points or more in 15 of 29 games this season and in 36 career games. Jeronimus has scored 546 points this season, which ranks fourth on the PSU top scoring list, just ahead of her 522 point total her freshman season. She needs just six points to move to third and 12 to move to second. Leslie Dudley holds the single season scoring record with 597 points.
Westhoff & Bordewick for THREEEEEE Junior Morgan Westhoff has hit 34 threes this season, including a career-high seven threes against Indianapolis. She is only the third person to make seven or more threes in a game in school history. Kara Kinney made eight threes twice in the 2005-06 season. Pitt State's prolific three-point shooting Jenni Miller hit eight threes in a game three times in her career, nine threes once and a school record 11 threes on Jan. 28, 1995 against Truman. Westhoff has made 101 threes in her third year at Pitt State. Alexa Bordewick has also made 34 on the season, including several crucial threes in close games and six threes in the loss to Washburn on January 18. She has made 164 threes in her career, the third-most in school history.
Another Milestone Lizzy Jeronimus grabbed her 500th career rebound against Lincoln on Jan. 6. She is one of only six players in schoool history to grab more then 500 rebounds and score more than 1,000 points. She currently has 596 career rebounds which ties her for fourth on the all-time rebounding list. She needs 60 more to move to third. With her current average, the team would need to play nine more games for her to move to third. Jeronimus has surprassed her total rebounds from her sophomore season and needs just 18 more to reach the top 10 list for season rebounds. She needs 35 rebounds to match her total from her freshman year. Jeronimus also has 245 career assists, the 10th best total in school history. She is only the second player in school history to be in the top 10 for points, rebounds and assists. The only other was Lisa Cropper who played from 1993-96. She finished her career with 1399 points, 538 rebounds and 500 assists. Jeronimus has already passed her in scoring and rebounding. Jeronimus needs four more assists to move to ninth and seven to move to eighth.
In the Polls The USA Today/WBCA Pre-Season Coaches Poll came out on Tuesday, October 29. The Gorillas were receiving votes in the poll. Four Pitt State opponents were ranked in the top 25, including three in the top 10, No. 5 Emporia State, No. 8 Central Missouri and No. 9 Concordia-St. Paul. Additionally, Indianapolis, Montana State-Billings, Northeastern State, Quincy, Fort Hays State and Minnesota-Duluth are all receiving votes. The Gorillas dropped out of the poll for several weeks, then were receiving votes, and last week reentered the poll at No. 23. The team is currently ranked No. 22. Currently several Gorilla opponents are ranked or receiving votes including No. 7 Emporia State, No. 8 Central Missouri and No. 22 Quincy. Indianapolis, Fort Hays State and Montana State-Billings and Concordia are receiving votes.
Top Sports Stories in the 4-StatesTop Sports HeadlinesMore>>