Gorillas return to MIAA play Saturday

Pitt State will be on the road against UNK Saturday.
AJ Walker Pitt State


The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will resume Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play when the Gorillas hit the road to face the University of Nebraska-Kearney Saturday (Jan. 4) and Fort Hays State University Monday (Jan. 6). Pitt State will meet the Lopers at 4 p.m. (CST) Saturday at UNK’s Health & Sports Center and the Gorillas will battle the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Gross Memorial Coliseum at Hays, Kan.

The Pitt State action can be heard on ESPN 100.7 FM radio, online at espn1007.com/go or through the ESPN 100.7 or KSHQ app for phones or mobile devices.

The Records
Pitt State is 4-7 overall and 0-2 in MIAA play.  The Gorillas are seeking to halt a six-game losing streak when the take on the Lopers Saturday. Pitt State dropped a hard fought 93-89 decision to Bethany College in its last action Tuesday (Dec. 31).

Nebraska-Kearney is 7-4 overall and 1-1 in the MIAA. The Lopers posted a 73-39 victory over Nebraska Christian College the last time out Wednesday (Jan. 1). UNK has won three straight games.

Fort Hays State is 6-4 overall and 0-2 in MIAA play heading into a Saturday (Jan. 4) match-up against Missouri Southern State University. The Tigers downed Avila University, 96-55, in their last action on Dec. 20.

Head Coach Kim Anderson
Pittsburg State’s Kim Anderson is in his third season leading the Gorillas. He compiled a pair of 17-13 records in his first two seasons at Pitt State and he has a 38-33 (.535) overall record leading the Gorillas.

Anderson (Missouri, ’79) became the Gorillas’ 15th all-time head coach on Apr. 10, 2017, after coaching the previous three seasons at his alma mater – the University of Missouri.

He has a 339-195 (.635) record in 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship as head coach at the University of Central Missouri as well as two more Division II Final Four appearances (2007, 2009) while compiling a 274-95 (.743) record at the school.

Anderson led UCM to seven trips to the NCAA Division II National Tournament and seven 20-win seasons.  In his final season with the Mules he guided the squad to a 30-5 overall record and the D2 national title.

His Mules teams captured six MIAA regular season titles (2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014) and four MIAA Tournament titles (2005, 2007, 2009, 2013).

He was selected the MIAA Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2010, and the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year in 2014.

Series History
Saturday’s match-up will be the 42nd meeting between the Gorillas and the Lopers. UNK holds a 31-10 edge in the series including a 17-2 advantage in games played at Kearney, Neb. Pitt State did snap a 16-game road losing streak against the Lopers with an 83-75 win at Kearney on Feb. 28, 2019.

Monday’s action will be the162nd all-time meeting between Pitt State and FHSU. The Tigers hold an 88-73 advantage in the series, including a 54-24 edge in games played at Hays. FHSU has won nine of the last 10 meetings at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Scouting the Gorillas
The Gorillas have four players scoring in double figures on the season:  senior guards A.J. Walker (16.8 ppg), Jah-Kobe Womack (13.7 ppg) and Marcel Cherry (11.3 ppg) and junior forward Dejon Waters Jr. (11.2 ppg).

Walker made his season debut for the Gorillas vs. Henderson State on Dec. 18. In four games played, he is averaging 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Walker (6-0, 165) started all 30 games during his junior campaign, averaging 7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

The Kansas City, Mo., native transferred to Pitt State from State Fair Community College where he averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 assists per game during his sophomore campaign and earned honorable mention NJCAA All-America honors.

Womack is averaging 13.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game to date. He has made a team-leading 23 3-point field goals (2.1 pg). Womack (6-3, 175) scored a season high 27 points vs. Drury on Dec. 22.

Womack transferred to Pitt State from NCAA Division II member Quincy University for his senior campaign. The St. Louis, Mo., native averaged 12.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game during his junior campaign at Quincy, after redshirting in 2017-18. He made a team-leading 41 3-point field goals.

Womack averaged 10.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Allen County Community College in 2016-17. He averaged 19 points and six rebounds per game, earning first-team All-Conference honors as a senior in 2014-15 at Cardinal Ritter College Prep.

Cherry is averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in nine games played. The Merrillville, Ind., native is shooting 48.0 percent from the field (36-75). He scored a career high 30 points on 12 of 17 shooting vs. MSSU on Dec. 3.

Cherry (6-1, 185) averaged 4.2 points and 1.7 assists per game in his first season in the Pitt State program in 2018-19.

Cherry averaged 7.7 points and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore at Wabash Valley College in 2017-18. He posted 9.1 points per game as a freshman at Howard College, earning honorable mention All-Conference honors.

Waters is contributing 11.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game as well after joining the Gorillas from Central Georgia Technical College. He scored a season-high 21 points vs. Henderson State (Dec. 18) and he’s shooting 48.7 percent from 3-point range (19-39).

Waters (6-4, 220) averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game as a sophomore at Central Georgia Tech. The Atlanta, Ga., native scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds a game as a senior at Shiloh High School.

Sophomore guard R.J. Lawrence is averaging 9.3 points and 3.0 assists in seven games played. He ranks 12th in the MIAA in assists to date. Lawrence has missed the last three games due to injury.

Lawrence (5-11, 145) played in 17 contests during his freshman campaign, averaging 3.5 points per game. The Blue Springs, Mo., native shot 46.7 percent from the field (21-45) in limited action (7.6 minutes per game).

Lawrence was a three-time All-Conference and two-time All-District performer at Blue Springs High School.

Sophomore guard Ray Elliott is contributing 8.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. The Tulsa, Okla., native posted career highs of 20 points and nine rebounds in the Gorillas victory over Avila on Nov. 30.

Elliott (6-4, 165) saw action in all 30 games in a reserve role for the Gorillas in 2018-19, averaging 4.8 points per game. He made 27 3-point field goals on the year (27-83, .325).

Elliott led the state of Oklahoma in scoring as a senior at Tulsa’s Nathan Hale High School in 2017-18, averaging 36 points per game.

Senior forward Christian Edmondson has averaged 6.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He is shooting a team-best 64.4 percent form the field, making 29 of 45 shots from the floor. Edmondson also has blocked 13 shots in 10 gamed played (1.3 bpg), ranking sixth in the MIAA in blocked shots. He also ranks second in the league in rebounding.

Edmondson (6-6, 215) posted career highs with 19 points and 18 rebounds in the Gorillas’ season opener vs. Upper Iowa on Nov. 8.

Edmondson averaged 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game during his junior campaign. He saw action in 25 games, including eight starts, in the Pitt State frontcourt. The Flower Mound, Texas, native shot 64.9 percent from the field, making 74 of 114 shots from the field. He also grabbed a team-leading 54 offensive rebounds and recorded 32 blocked shots (1.3 bpg) on the season.

Edmondson has scored 379 points (4.9 ppg) and grabbed 326 rebounds (4.2 rpg) in 77 career games for the Gorillas.

Junior forward Antonio Givens II has averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game to date, while shooting 50.0 percent from the field (24-48). He transferred to Pitt State from NCAA Division I Kent State University. Givens posted 15 points and eight rebounds against BBC on Nov. 23.

Givens (6-9, 260) redshirted in his only season at Kent State after playing his freshman and sophomore seasons at Wabash Valley College. He averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore for the Warriors in 2017-18, shooting 62.5 percent from the field on the season.

Junior forward Xavier Womack is averaing 4.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in eight contests for the Gorillas. The Johnson County Community College transfer posted a double-double in his season debut on Nov. 23 against BBC with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He ranks 11th in the MIAA in rebounding.

Womack (6-6, 180) started 10 of 35 games played for the Cavaliers in 2018-19, helping JCCC to a 31-4 record and the NJCAA Division II National Runner-Up finish.

The St. Louis, Mo., native averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the field on the season.

Womack was selected the NJCAA Kansas Jayhawk Community College Division II Freshman of the Year in 2017-18 when he averaged 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds and garnered second-team All-Jayhawk Conference honors.

Redshirt freshman guard Drew Roelfs has averaged 4.0 points per game to date. Roelfs (6-1, 180) scored a career high 18 points in the Gorillas’ win against Baptist Bible College. The Pittsburg native has made eight 3-pointers on the season (8-19, .421).

Roelfs redshirted in his initial season in the Pitt State program in 2018-19. He earned All-League honors as a senior at Pittsburg High School.

Junior guard Grant Harding is averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on the season. He posted 17 points and five rebounds vs. BBC.

Harding (6-3, 219) transferred to Pitt State from Hesston College. The Louisburg, Kan., native started 60 games in the backcourt at Hesston. He averaged 17 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior at Louisburg High School.

Pitt State Probable Starters
F  12  Dejon Waters Jr., 6-4, 220, Jr., Atlanta, Ga.
F  15  Antonio Givens II, 6-9, 260, Jr., Columbus, Ohio
G   1  A.J. Walker, 6-0, 165, Sr., Kansas City, Mo.
G   3  Jah-Kobe Womack, 6-3, 175, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.
G  11  Marcel Cherry, 6-1, 185, Sr., Merrillville, Ind.