Central Missouri placed the kindling for an upset early. The Jennies led No. 19 ranked Pittsburg State by 13 in the first quarter, but ran out of gas in a 68-64 loss to the Gorillas.
Mikaela Burgess and Tayler Weiks traded threes early to make the score 5-5. Central Missouri went on a 9-2 run before a timeout with under four minutes to play in the first.
Weiks and Burgess both had 12 points at the half on four 3-pointers.
Burgess led the Gorillas with 21 points. Hadyn Herlocker had 14 points and six assists. Kylie Gafford added 17 points and nine rebounds.
Pittsburg State cut an 11-point deficit to four before halftime, holding UCM to 9 points in the second quarter.
The Jennies led by one when Paige Redmond made a half-court buzzer-beating three to give Central Missouri a 35-31 lead at half.
Redmond finished with eight points. Shelby Winkelmann led the Jennies with 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting. Weiks and Ashley Duffy scored 12 points apiece.
PSU got the edge and kept it in the second half. A step-back 3-pointer from Herlocker and a 3-point play down low from Gafford put Pittsburg State up 41-37 with 6:44 to play in the third quarter.
The Jennies stayed within arm’s reach of Pittsburg State in the final quarter, but failed to slow down the Gorilla offense down the stretch.
When Herlocker – breaking the Jennies’ full-court press – refrained from shooting an open layup with 21 seconds to play, victory finally appeared out of reach despite being down just four.
Since defeating Pittsburg State by 18 points Jan. 7, the Jennies have gone 4-7.
Central Missouri head coach Dave Slifer said Wednesday’s loss was an apt representation of the Jennies’ disappointments over the season.
“This was just another microcosm of how we’ve played this year,” Slifer said. “We’ve played just well enough to lose.”
The Jennies (9-15, 8-10 MIAA) have three more scheduled games until the conference tournament on Feb. 29.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2