Wayne State’s well balanced and high-powered offense helped hold off Pittsburg State on Friday night in Warrensburg, Missouri in the opening game of the Central Region Tipoff Classic. The Wildcats move to 1-0 on the year, moving head coach Jeff Kaminsky to 2-1 in season-openers at the helm of the Wildcats.
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, sandwiched by a V. Janssen jumper and a Trevin Joseph Jr. 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 (10-15) from the field in that span, including 3-4 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 match and close the gap within five. Trading buckets, the two sides went into the break with Wayne State leading 51-45.
Joseph paced the Wildcats with 12 points in the first half. Bonner joined in double-digit scoring, adding 10 points on 5-7 shooting. The Wildcats shot 58.8% from the field (20-34) and hit 7-13 from the trey (53.8%). The Wildcats out-rebounded the Gorillas by an 18-12 margin, along with a 21-3 advantage in points off the bench.
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 at the 4:00 minute mark. Pittsburg State used a late surge to get within one possession but fell short as the Wildcats free throws down the stretch proved enough to squeak by in a highly contested game.
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), Nick Ferrarini (10) and Bonner (10). Joseph also paced the Wildcats with four assists while newcomer Al’Tavius Jackson recorded nine rebounds in his first game in a Wayne State jersey.
Wayne State shot 35-60 (58.3%) from the field and 11-21 (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 as the Wildcats led for 36:03 minutes.
Wayne State takes on Central Missouri on Saturday evening in Warrensburg, Missouri. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.