By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Pittsburg State coach Lane Lord said his Gorillas didn’t really start getting Lauren Brown involved in the offense until the second half of the Washburn game, two weeks ago.
The results have been noticeable.
Brown, Pitt State’s 6-foot-6 senior, scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and played a key role in a smooth-operating offense on Saturday as the Gorillas beat Northeastern State 78-60, winning their third straight and avenging a Jan. 23 loss at Tahlequah.
“We didn’t involve her at all until about the Washburn game and that’s when we started playing better basketball,” Lord said of Brown. “When we touch the post with the ball, good things happen.”
Most notably, the Gorillas (15-7, 9-5 MIAA) are lights-out from beyond the arc when they first get the ball down low.
Pitt State hit 9 of its 18 treys on Saturday, including 4-of-5 shooting from Alexa Bordewick.
“You look at the last three-and-a-half games, back to the second half against Washburn, and we try to touch the post on every possession and our 3-point shooting percentage goes up,” Lord said. “It’s amazing how that happens. It’s the reward we get. You touch the post and you hit 3s. It’s that simple.”
Brown hit 8 of her 13 shots from the field and was one rebound shy from a double-double in her 26 minutes. Her three-point play capped a 9-2 run that started with Bordewick’s shot-clock-beating trey and ended with a 73-57 Gorilla lead.
“I’ve gotten more and more comfortable every day at practice,” Brown said. “My confidence is better and I’m getting comfortable. I’m relying on my teammates and they’re helping me.”
Northeastern State (17-7, 12-4) was led by the sharp-shooting Taylor Lewis, who hit 5 of her 7 3-pointers and poured in game high 29 points, including 17 in the second half.
“She’s probably the best player in this league or one of the top-five for sure,” Lord said of the 5-7 senior from Broken Arrow, Okla. “Some of those shots she hit were just incredible shots. It wasn’t because we weren’t there to put a hand in her face.”
But the Gorillas didn’t let any of the other RiverHawks do much damage. Pitt State held NSU to 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range.
“We had a remarkable team defensive effort,” Lord said. “They lead the league in 3-point shooting percentage and field goal percentage in conference play and we hold them to 38 percent. That’s a pretty good job.”
Lizzy Jeronimus tied Brown for team honors with 17 points after scoring just two points and committing four turnovers in the first half. She admitted she was lectured at halftime before responding with a 15-point, zero-turnover second half.
“I just needed to be more aggressive and stay focused and keep finding shots for my teammates and then I knew I’d be able to get shots,” she said.