Fort Hays State picked up a key conference win on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 18) at Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla. by a score of 79-65. The Tigers pushed their win streak to six games and moved to 14-3 overall and 6-3 in the MIAA. Northeastern State dropped to 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the MIAA.
Trailing 23-16 in the first half, Fort Hays State went on an 18-5 to close the half and led 34-28 at halftime. A 16-7 run to open the second half pushed the Tiger lead to its largest, 15 points with 14:01 to go in the game. Northeastern followed with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to seven as the Tigers went scoreless for nearly four and a half minutes, but a pair of Craig Nicholson free-throws snapped the run and FHSU would not let NSU closer than seven the rest of the way.
Fort Hays State, the top free-throw shooting team in the nation currently, got the job done at the line, shooting 88.5 percent as a team for the game (23-of-26). FHSU missed just one attempt in the second half, going 18-of-19 after the break. Craig Nicholson had a big chunk of that total, going 15-of-16 at the line and finishing with a team-high 27 points. He was 6-of-9 from the field. Carson Konrade added 16 points and Dwayne Brunson had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Northeastern State was paced by its All-American point guard Bryton Hobbs with 28 points. Landon DeMasters added 10.
The win vaulted the Tigers into a third-place tie in the MIAA standings with Northeastern State and Central Missouri. The Tigers remain two games back of conference leader Northwest Missouri State, which defeated FHSU earlier this season in Hays in the only game where the teams will meet in the regular season.
Fort Hays State University's second half comeback fell just short in a 49-48 loss at Northeastern State on Saturday afternoon.
FHSU (12-3, 6-3 MIAA) trailed by eight with four minutes to go, but stormed back to take a one-point lead with 21 seconds remaining. Two late NSU (8-8, 5-4 MIAA) free throws, however, sunk the effort.
The Tigers shot 31.5 percent from the field on the night, and 5-of-23 from long range. After showing marked improvement over the past three games in free throw shooting, FHSU's struggles re-appeared as the team hit 50 percent from the line (9-of-18).
Kate Lehman led the team with 19 points, pulling down seven rebounds as well. Chelsea Mason had 11 points on the day, while Katelyn Edwards had a team-best nine rebounds to go with four points.
Taylor Chandler led the team with three steals.
Up 8-6 near the 17-minute mark of the first half, FHSU was held scoreless for over five minutes, but strong defense helped the Tigers maintain the lead until 13:38, when a NSU jumper tied the game at 8-all and sparked a 10-0 run for the home team, sending the game inside the 10-minute media timeout.
With 9:43 to go in the half, Mason hit a 3-pointer to break the Tigers' drought, starting a burst of nine unanswered for FHSU to retake the lead, 17-16, at 7:22.
At the half, FHSU trailed NSU by three, 25-22. The Tigers went just 1-of-9 from long range in the first half, and struggled on the boards as the RiverHawks owned the rebounding advantage, 17-14.
Down four inside the 15-minute media timeout, Paige Lunsford's 3-pointer pulled the Tigers within one (32-31) at 13:55, but NSU scored five unanswered to jump back ahead, 37-31, with 11:13 to go.
With 4:18 remaining, FHSU trailed by eight, but soon started a 15-4 run that gave FHSU a lead inside the final minute.
Lehman started the run with a layup just inside the four minute mark, followed closely by Mason's 3-pointer that shrunk the deficit to just three, 45-42. After a minute of scoreless action, Beth Bohuslavsky hit a 3-pointer at 1:56 to tie the game, just prior to an FHSU timeout.
Out of the pause, an NSU layup and a Lehman free throw had the score at 48-47 (NSU leading) with just 39 seconds to go.
FHSU took the lead with 21 seconds remaining, as Chandler picked up a steal on Kate Bellamy's turnover and scored on fast break layup. The Tigers led by one, 48-47 at that point.
Needing a stop to seal the win, FHSU was whistled for a foul with 3.5 seconds remaining, sending Bellamy to the line for two shots - which she hit to put NSU ahead, 49-48.
As time expired, Bohuslavsky launched a desperation 3-pointer that hit the rim and bounced off - just missing the last second bucket.