Rogers State Men’s Basketball’s Justin Barkley picked up his 200th career victory as a head coach on Wednesday, as the Hillcats defeated Pittsburg State 80-72 on the road in MIAA play at John Lance Arena.
Seniors Tavian Davis and Christopher Miller would lead the Hillcats (17-4, 9-3 MIAA) in scoring as Davis scored 18 of his 21 in the first half and Miller scored 18 of his career high 25 in the second half.
How It Happened: Rogers State took an early lead in the game with a jumper from Davis, followed by a three pointer from the senior on the next possession. However, Pitt State (7-12, 2-7 MIAA) would battle back and take the lead at 16:47 with a three pointer.
The hosts would maintain the advantage until the Hillcats tied it at 10-10 with another three pointer from Davis at the 15:00 mark. The Gorillas would jump back in front and go ahead 15-10 in the next 60 seconds.
After a jumper from Brewster Peacock, Davis hit another three pointer with 13:11 remaining in the first half, followed by a jumper from the Muskogee native to give the Hillcats the lead at 12:41. Rogers State would remain in front for the duration of the contest.
The run to take the lead came in the midst of a 22-6 run for the Hillcats, who opened up as much as an 11-point lead in the first half. Rogers State would float around the double-digit lead for the remainder of the half until the Gorillas cut the deficit to three with a 7-0 run just before the half.
The Hillcats would take a 44-39 lead into the break after Cole Kinnamon made a layup on a fast break with just over a second remaining.
In the second half, Rogers State held a single-digit lead over the first 10 minutes, but the hosts could not close the gap closer than three points.
Rogers State would be led by Miller in the second half and the senior put the Hillcats ahead by double figures with 5:40 remaining. RSU would stay ahead by double digits until Pittsburg State made a layup with three seconds to wrap up the scoring.
Key Statistic: Rogers State forced 14 turnovers from the Gorillas and converted the turnovers into 23 points. Pittsburg State had just 12 points off of eight turnovers from the Hillcats.
Players of Note: Miller led all scorers in the game, finishing with 25 points in 25 minutes off of the bench. Miller was 10-for-13 from the field in the game and also added five free throws. The Tulsa native also led all players in rebounds, grabbing seven boards in the contest.
Davis was second in scoring, finishing with a season high 21 points. He finished with a game high five assists and also added four rebounds, a block and a steal.
Marques Sumner and Brewster Peacock added four assists each for the Hillcats. Sumner scored nine points and had a steal and rebound. Peacock added seven points and three rebounds.
Notes: In his 10th season as head coach of the Hillcats, Barkley has led the Navy and Red to a 200-92 record. Barkley and the Hillcats have had at least 16 wins in every season, never having a losing record. Barkley has guided the Hillcats to at least 20 wins in six of the first nine seasons.
The victory matches the Hillcats longest win streak of the season at six. Rogers State has a pair of six-game win streaks, along with a five-game streak.
The Hillcats were just 8-of-13 (.615) from the free-throw line, but Pittsburg State was only 24-of-37 (.649) from the stripe.
Rogers State’s bench outscored the Gorillas 32-16 for the game and the Hillcats also outscored Pittsburg State 26-14 in the paint.
Wednesday’s performance is the second-straight 20+ point performance for Christopher Miller, who has led the Hillcats in both games coming off the bench. Miller has now led the Hillcats in scoring on five occasions this season, with the last three coming over a four-game stretch.
What It Means: The victory keeps the Hillcats in third in the MIAA Standings heading into Saturday’s showdown with No.11/13 Missouri Southern State, who currently sit atop the MIAA Standings following a 65-62 win over Northeastern State on Wednesday in Joplin.
Up Next: The Hillcats will take on the Lions of Missouri Southern (16-3, 9-1 MIAA) on Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. tipoff set for the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center in Joplin, Missouri.