Gorillas to face Missouri Southern in MIAA tournament opener

Pitt State and MSSU will play Friday afternoon
Gorillas to face Missouri Southern in MIAA tournament opener

The Pittsburg State Gorillas will face Missouri Southern in the MIAA tournament quarterfinals on Friday afternoon in Kansas City.

The Gorillas are the #6 seed in the bracket, while MSSU is the #3 seed. The Lions swept the season series against Pitt State, winning in both Pittsburg and Joplin.

Pitt State gave up 90-plus points in each of those two meetings, but according to head coach Kim Anderson, they weren’t as efficient as they needed to be on the other end of the court as well.

“These are two teams that are probably in the top four in the conference in points scored,” Anderson says, “I don’t think when we’ve played them we’ve done a very good job of attacking. On the other side, our defense has got to be better. We’re the worst defensive team in the league. We shouldn’t be the worst. We probably shouldn’t be the best, but we shouldn’t be the worst.”

RELEASE FROM PITTSBURG STATE ATHLETICS:

The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will travel to Kansas City, Mo., open play in the 2019 MIAA Postseason Tournament Friday (Mar. 8) at historic Municipal Auditorium.

The Gorillas, the No. 6 seed in the tournament, will face No. 3 seed Missouri Southern State University Friday at 2:15 p.m. (CST).

Friday’s MIAA Tournament quarterfinal game 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
The Gorillas enter the MIAA Postseason Tournament with a 16-12 overall record and a 9-10 mark in MIAA play. Pitt State finished the regular season in a tie for fifth place in the conference standings with Lincoln University.

Missouri Southern is 23-6 overall on the season. The Lions posted an 14-5 record in MIAA play.

The winner of the Pitt State-MSSU match-up will advance to the MIAA Tournament semifinals Saturday (Mar. 9) at 2:15 p.m. to face the winner in a Friday battle between No. 2 Washburn University and the winner of a Wednesday (Mar. 6) match-up between No. 7 Lindenwood University and No. 10 Southwest Baptist University.

The 2019 MIAA Postseason Tournament Championship game is set for 1 p.m. (CST) Sunday (Mar. 10).

Head Coach Kim Anderson
Pittsburg State’s Kim Anderson is in his second season leading the Gorillas. He compiled a 17-13 record in his first season at Pitt State and has a 33-25 (.569) mark 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 334-187 (.641) record in 17 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
Pitt State and MSSU will meet for the 104th time in program history Friday in the MIAA Tournament quarterfinals. The Lions hold a 57-46 advantage in the series, including seven consecutive wins dating back to the 2016 season.

The two teams are 1-1 in games played in the MIAA Tournament at Kansas City, Mo., with MSSU winning, 63-61, on Mar. 4, 2005, and PSU winning, 91-65, on Mar. 8, 2015. The Lions defeated Pitt State, 95-84, in Pittsburg on Feb. 16, and MSSU followed that up with a 94-81 decision at Joplin on Feb. 19.

Christian Edmondson paced the Gorillas with 22 points in the first meeting, while Grant Lozoya had a team-high 20 points at Joplin.

Gorillas in the MIAA Tournament
Pitt State is making its 22nd appearances in the MIAA Postseason Tournament. The Gorillas have compiled an 18-20 (.474) record in 38 MIAA Tournament games and reached the Finals of the tournament four times, including winning the the tournament title in 2015.

Pitt State has compiled an 8-10 (.444) record in MIAA Tournament games played at Municipal Auditorium.

Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has two players scoring in double figures – senior guard Grant Lozoya (22.3 ppg) and senior guard Donovan Franklin (20.9 ppg) – while five more active players – senior forward Demetrius Levarity (9.8 ppg), junior guard A.J. Walker (7.1 ppg), junior forward Christian Edmondson (6.5 ppg), freshman guard Ray Elliott (5.1 ppg) and junior guard Marcel Cherry (4.5 ppg) – are scoring four or more points a game.

Lozoya is averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game to date. He leads the MIAA and currently ranks eighth in NCAA Division II in scoring. He was named to the third-team All-MIAA squad Tuesday (Mar. 5).

The Agoura Hills, Calif., native scored a career-high 38 points in the Gorillas’ win against UIndy Dec. 17, posting the third-highest single-game scoring total since Pitt State joined the NCAA ranks in 1990.

Lozoya (6-3, 180) earned MIAA Player of the Week honors on Nov. 9 after scoring 25 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists in Pitt State’s 79-71 win over UAFS Nov. 17.

Lozoya also earned MIAA Player of the Week honors on Dec. 10 after averaging 27.0 points in a pair of MIAA wins over NSU and UCO. He hit the game-winning shot from just inside half court in the Gorillas 77-76 victory against the Bronchos Dec. 8.

He added a third MIAA Player of the Week recognition following the Las Vegas Hoopla on Dec. 20 after averaging 34.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in a pair of games.

Lozoya is shooting 47.8 percent from the field (208-435), 37.5 percent from 3-point range (60-160) and 87.5 percent from the free throw line (147-168). He currently ranks second the MIAA in free throw percentage, ranks 12th in the conference in rebounding and 13th in the league in field goal percentage.

Lozoya averaged 13.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while making 29 starts for the Gorillas a year ago. He made a team-leading 44 3-point field goals (44-114, .386) and he shot 48.0 percent from the field (129-169).

Lozoya has scored 1,001 points in 57 career games for the Gorillas (17.6 ppg). He became the 24th player in Pitt State history to score 1,000 career points.

Lozoya came to Pitt State after three years at Stetson University. He averaged 9.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Hatters in 2014-15, earning All-Freshman honors from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Lozoya contributed 7.4 points and 2.5 rebounds as a sophomore in 2015-16, before exercising a medical redshirt in 2016-17.

Franklin is averaging 20.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 26 games played. He was named to the third-team All-MIAA squad Tuesday (Mar. 5).

Franklin averaged 25.9 points per game in seven games prior to suffering the knee injury against MWSU on Feb. 2.

For the season, Franklin is shooting 48.4 percent from the field (181-374) and 88.9 percent from the free throw line (128-144). He’s currently fifth in the MIAA in scoring and he ranks 14th in the conference in rebounding and second in the league in free throw percentage.

Franklin (6-5, 205) scored the game’s final nine points as the Gorillas rallied from down 66-62 to claim a 71-66 win over Maryville Nov. 19. He posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds against the Saints; and he’s scored 20 or more points in 14 of Pitt State’s 21 games to date.

Franklin earned honorable mention All-MIAA honors in his initial season with the Gorillas, averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 26 games played. He shot 49.2 percent from the field, converting 130 of 264 shots on the season. Franklin shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range (41-102). He also made 87.2 percent of his free throw attempts, sinking 129 of 148 charity tries.

Franklin scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his Pitt State debut against Minnesota State on Nov. 10, 2017. He scored 20 or more points eight times, including a season-high 31 points against Missouri Western on Feb. 17, 2018. He scored in double figures in 22 of 29 games and averaged 18.7 points per game over the final seven games of the 2017-18 campaign.

He has scored 974 points in 52 career games for the Gorillas (18.7 ppg).

Franklin joined the Gorillas from Indiana State University. He averaged 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 26 games for the Sycamores in 2016-17. He averaged 14.9 points a game as a freshman at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla.

Levarity (6-7, 210) is averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The New Orleans, La., native also is averaging a team-leading 1.4 steals per game, ranking in a tie for fourth place in the MIAA in the category.

Levarity, who scored a career-high 23 points vs. UNK on Feb. 9, contributed 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. He shot 50.2 percent from the field (105-209) and he converted 37 of 90 3-point attempts (.411).

Levarity scored in double figures in 17 of 27 games played. He posted three double-doubles, including a 19-point, 11-rebound effort against Fort Hays State on Dec. 2, 2017. Levarity scored a season-high 22 points against Missouri Western on Feb. 17, 2018.

Levarity transferred to Pitt State from Sam Houston State University, where he redshirted in 2016-17. He contributed 15.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Southeastern Illinois College.

Walker is contributing 7.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.8 steals per game to date.

Walker (6-0, 165) transferred to Pitt State from State Fair Community College. The Kansas City, Mo., native averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 assists per game for the Roadrunners in 2017-18, earning honorable mention NJCAA All-America honors.

Edmondson is averaging 6.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 23 games played. The Flower Mound, Texas, native is shooting 68.4 percent from the field (65-95). He currently ranks in third place in the MIAA in blocked shots.

Edmondson scored a season-high 22 points vs. MSSU on Feb. 16.

Elliott has added 5.1 points per game in his freshman campaign. Elliott (6-4, 165) averaged 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game as a senior at Tulsa’s Nathan Hale High School last year. He earned first-team Oklahoma Class 5A All-State honors after leading the state in scoring his senior prep season.

Cherry is averaging 4.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

Cherry (6-1, 185) joined the Gorillas from Wabash Valley College where he averaged 7.7 points and 3.2 assists per game in 2017-18. The Merrillville, Ind., native averaged 9.1 points per game and earned honorable mention All-Conference honors as a freshman at Howard College.

Senior forward/center Trenton Clayton averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots per game per suffering a season-ending foot injury vs. FHSU on Feb. 7.The Montgomery, Ala., native shot 58.3 percent from the field (67-115).

As a team, Pitt State is shooting 46.3 percent from the field (817-1766), 34.7 percent from 3-point range (243-700) and 75.1 percent from the free throw line (444-591). The Gorillas are scoring 82.8 points per game.

Pitt State Probable Starters
F 5 Demetrius Levarity, 6-7, 210, Sr., New Orleans, La.
F 33 Christian Edmondson, 6-6, 215, Jr., Flower Mound, Texas
G 1 A.J. Walker, 6-0, 165, Jr., Kansas City, Mo.
G 2 Grant Lozoya, 6-3, 180, Sr., Agoura Hills, Calif.
G 3 Donovan Franklin, 6-5, 205, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.