The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Pittsburg State Sports

March 13, 2012

Season comes full circle for Pitt State

Pittsburg State’s women’s basketball season has come full circle.

The Gorillas began their season the second weekend last November in a classic hosted by St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Pittsburg State won both games by scores of 76-64 over Tarleton State and 61-56 over St. Mary’s.

Next week the Gorillas return to Bill Greehey Arena on the St. Mary’s campus to play in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. Pittsburg State (27-5) faces Shaw (26-6) from Raleigh, N.C., at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the third of four quarterfinal games.

The Gorillas, who had not won a game in five previous NCAA Tournament appearances, captured the South Central Regional on Monday night with a 79-67 victory over MIAA foe Emporia State at Lee Arena in Topeka. PSU trailed by one point at halftime but began the second half with a 12-0 spurt and never relinquished the lead.

Pittsburg State coaches and players had little difficulty during their game preparation throughout the regional. The third-seeded Gorillas played teams they had faced twice during the regular season in all three rounds — Central Missouri in the first round, Northeastern State (Okla.) in the semifinals and Emporia State in the final.

Emporia State reached the title game by beating Washburn, a team the Lady Hornets lost to twice in the regular season and in the MIAA Postseason Tournament championship game.

Shaw, the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region, knocked off top-seeded Edinboro 70-53 in the championship game. The Lady Bears outscored Edinboro 46-25 in the second half to erase a four-point halftime lead.

Other pairings

The remaining Elite Eight games pit Wayne State, Neb. (32-2) vs. Bentley (30-3), Ashland (31-1) vs. Alaska-Anchorage (30-4) and Rollins (27-5) vs. Lander (24-7).

Wayne State, Bentley, Ashland and Rollins all captured regional crowns on their home courts.

Alaska-Anchorage, a No. 2 seed, knocked off top-seeded UC San Diego 68-63 in the West final.

Lander was the fourth seed in the Southeast Region but upset top-seeded South Carolina-Aiken 61-55 in the semis and third-seeded Wingate 72-67 in the final.

Milestone victory

Bentley, down 38-26 at halftime of the East Region final, shot 67 percent from the field and outscored Holy Family 58-35 in the second half for an 84-73 victory.

Bentley is making its 12th Elite Eight trip in the last 24 years, and Monday night’s victory certainly was a milestone:

• No. 30 this season;

• No. 50 in NCAA Tournaments;

• No. 900 in program history.

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