The Pittsburg State Gorillas won their first conference postseason game since 1998, defeating the University of Nebraska-Omaha by an 81-79 score Friday night (March 6) in the first round of the MIAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournment at Municipal Auditorium.
The third-seeded Gorillas (20-8, 14-6 MIAA) will play the No. 2 seed Washburn Lady Blues Saturday night (March 7) in the second semifinal at 8:15 p.m., CST. The winner plays the survivor between Missouri Southern and Emporia State in the title game Sunday (March 8).
PSU had lost its last 10 appearances since a 76-63 home win over Central Missouri in the first round of the 1998 tournament.
The Gorillas trailed only once in the game — 2-0 in the first few seconds of the contest when junior G LaTonya Wright sank a jumper for the Mavericks (15-12, 11-9 MIAA). Junior G DePrice Taylor’s three-pointer at the 19-minute mark put PSU ahead.
The score was 8-8 when Pitt State scored eight straight to double-up UNO with 12:23 remaining. the lead was as large as 11 points before the Mavs put on a run.
Junior F Ashley Nelson sank a three for Nebraska-Omaha then, after a jumper in the paint by junior F Nicole McCombs for PSU, Green drained back-to-back treys to pull the Mavericks within four, 29-25, with 2:52 left in the half.
It was 33-29 with 1:47 to go when the Gorillas ended the half on a 5-0 run to take a 38-29 halftime lead.
Pittsburg State extended its lead in the second half to 16 points before UNO began to chip away. A 13-2 outburst, with eight points from Green, cut the margin to five points in less than four minutes of game time. The Mavs were down, 67-62, with 6:57 left.
The Gorillas extended the advantage back to nine, and held a 78-69 lead with 3:25 left before the Mavs made one final push. A 9-1 burst capped by a three-pointer from senior F Amanda Brodsack made it 79-78 with 33 seconds left.
Taylor was fouled and made both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity to put the Gorillas up by three with 18 seconds left. UNO was looking for a game-tying shot from the arc when senior G Cayla Hargrove pump-faked and drew a foul as she tried a three with less than four seconds left.
Needing all three charities to at least force overtime, Hargrove ended up only making the second of her three tries at the stripe. McCombs corralled the rebound and was fouled, missing her free throw. A desperation three at the horn was off the mark for UNO.
Taylor finished with 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, 3-of-4 from three-point range and 5-of-6 at the foul line. McCombs ended up with 21 points, while senior G Brianna Buchanan added 12 points and senior F Candice Gilbert scored 11. The Gorillas shot 54.7 percent from the field for the game.
Green scored 14 of her 24 points in the second half for UNO, and also added a team-best seven assists. Hargrove and Brodsack each finished with 12 points.