Wildcat men open season with 95-92 win

Wayne State’s well balanced and high-powered offense helped hold off Pittsburg State 95-92 b\Friday night in the opening game of the Central Region Tipoff Classic in Warrensburg, Mo.

The Wildcats got off to a quick start from the hands of Vance Janssen, scoring the first three points of the 2018-19 season in the opening possession. Four points from freshman Jordan Janssen, sandwiching a Vance Janssen jumper and Trevin Joseph trey gave the Wildcats an early 12-5 lead.

The Gorillas took their first lead with 13:03 left in the first half before the Wildcats went on a scoring run of 25-8 in a 7:06 span. Wayne State shot 66.7 from the field in that span, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Tony Bonner provided eight of those points while Joseph’s six helped increase the lead to 41-25.

Pittsburg State slowly chipped at the lead to close on the half, willing their way to a 13-2 run to close the gap within five. Trading buckets, the two sides went into the break with Wayne State leading 51-45.

Despite the hot shooting of Pittsburg State, Wayne State answered and kept a lead of two possessions until the 8:20 mark. Five straight points from senior Kendall Jacks increased their lead to 76-69 before the Gorillas scored seven straight to tie the game at 76-76 with 6:26 remaining.

Wayne State didn’t trail or remain tied the rest of the way, using a 10-1 run to increase their advantage to 86-77 with 4:00 left. Pittsburg State used a late surge to get within one possession, but fell short as the Wildcats free throws down the stretch proved enough.

Joseph scored a team-high 23 points in the contest, one of five players for Wayne State to end the night in double digits. Vance Janssen added 19 points along with Jacks (12), Luke Ferrarini (10) and Bonner (10). Joseph also paced the Wildcats with four assists while Al’Tavius Jackson recorded nine rebounds.

Wayne State shot 35-of-60 (58.3 percent) from the field and 11-of-21 (52.4) from beyond the arc. The Wildcats dominated the glass with a 38-27 advantage in rebounds. Wayne State’s bench outscored Pittsburg State 30-12.

Wayne State (1-0) takes on Central Missouri on Saturday evening in Warrensburg, Mo. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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