A Craig Nicholson 3-point field goal with 10 seconds remaining tied the game and a pair of missed UCO free-throws with 1.6 seconds remaining allowed overtime in a stunning 101-97 comeback win in overtime for FHSU on Thursday night (Jan. 16) at Central Oklahoma. The Tigers kept their momentum in overtime and never trailed the rest of the way to move to 13-3 overall and 5-3 in the MIAA. UCO dropped to 10-5 overall and 4-4 in the MIAA.
Down 11 at halftime and looking very sluggish on offense in the first half, the Tigers upped their intensity and trimmed the lead to six in the first five minutes. Another little mini-burst by the Tigers cut the lead down to three points with 12:20 remaining and it shrunk to two at the 10:07 and 9:30 marks. A flurry of 3-point field goals made it look like UCO was going to pull away on its home floor, extending its lead back to nine with 3:00 to play, but the Tigers never gave in.
Dwayne Brunson cut the lead to seven with 2:37 to play, then Carson Konrade buried a 3-pointer with 1:36 to go to get the Tigers right back in it. Craig Nicholson then hit 1-of-2 free-throws following a steal of a UCO inbounds pass to cut the lead to three with 1:15 to go. UCO pushed back and opened the lead back to six with 47 seconds remaining.
The free-throw line proved crucial in the final moments of regulation. Tomislav Gabric was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 36 seconds remaining and hit all three free-throws to cut the lead back to three. A pair of missed free-throws by the Bronchos allowed Nicholson to drive, get fouled, and hit a pair of free-throws with 26 seconds to cut the lead back to one.
A pair of UCO free-throws pushed the margin back to three, but Nicholson would have the final blow in regulation for FHSU hitting a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining. UCO quickly drove down the court and was fouled on a drive with 1.6 seconds remaining. However, UCO's Aaron Anderson missed both free-throws allowing overtime.
The Tigers scored first in the extra period and would never give up the lead from that point, opening overtime on a 6-0 run with Brunson book-ending the run with a pair of buckets. He finished with a game-high 31 points and nine rebounds.
James Fleming, who had a career-high 20 points on the night, sealed the game with a pair of free-throws to put FHSU up four with six seconds remaining. Craig Nicholson added 19 points and nine assists. Tomislav Gabric scored 11 points and Carson Konrade chipped in 10.
After shooting just 35.5 percent in the first half, FHSU warmed up with 58.8 percent shooting in the second half and a 50 percent effort in overtime. The Tigers finished at 47.8 percent for the game. UCO, which shot over 50 percent in both the first and second halves, chilled to just 22.2 percent in the overtime period. The Tigers had another great night at the free-throw line, going 26-of-31 in the game (83.9 percent). UCO was just 65.8 percent at the line.
Josh Gibbs, who fouled out late in regulation, led UCO with 25 points and nine rebounds. Gibbs is the national leader in double-doubles and missed one for just the second time this season. Anderson finished with 22 points.
The Tigers will enjoy the win briefly as they get ready to tangle with another solid program in Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla. on Saturday (Jan. 18). Game time is set for 3:30 pm at the NSU Event Center. Northeastern State enters the game at 11-4 overall and 6-2 in the MIAA. Both FHSU and NSU have been in the Top 25 of the NABC Division II Rankings this year.
No. 23 Fort Hays State scored 36 second half points to knock off Central Oklahoma, 64-38, on Thursday evening in Edmond, Okla.
FHSU won its fourth straight is now 12-2 overall on the season and 6-1 in the MIAA. UCO dropped to 9-6 (4-4 MIAA).
Kate Lehman returned to the double-double category in points (18) and rebounds (12) to lead the team, while Katelyn Edwards and Chelsea Mason had 11 points.
Keriann Shaw put together a strong performance on the boards, pulling down eight rebounds while picking up one steal. Taylor Chandler's three steals led the team, and she added seven points in the effort.
Down 5-2 in the early going, Edwards tallied eight points over a 3:55 span to lead a 12-0 Tiger run that put FHSU ahead, 14-5, at 14:10. During that spurt, FHSU pulled down four offensive boards and intercepted three UCO passes.
UCO crawled back into the contest, pulling within one (14-13) with an 8-0 run of its own as the half approached the midway part - holding the Tigers scoreless for just under seven minutes of action (16:19 to 9:38).
Out of the 10-minute media timeout, Bohuslavsky snapped the Tigers' scoring drought with two free throws at 9:38, regaining control for the Tigers as FHSU stretched the lead to six, 21-15, with 6:13 remaining in the first half.
The Tigers uncharacteristically struggled with turnovers in the first half, totaling 13 in the opening 20 minutes after averaging just 12.5 per game so far this season (fourth fewest in the nation). Still, the Tigers were able to capitalize and lead the Bronchos, 28-23 at the half.
After the break, UCO clawed back within two (30-28), but a layup from Edwards at 17:09 sparked an 14-0 run for FHSU that gave control back to the visitors, 44-28, with 12:19 left in the game. Lehman had six straight points for FHSU in that run.
At 12:06, UCO's Olivia Mason hit a layup that stopped a scoring drought that lasted over five minutes, but Jill Faxon's first 3-pointer of the game started another Tiger run - this time nine unanswered - to put FHSU ahead, 53-30, with 7:29 remaining.
After nearly two minutes without points brought the game under the three minute mark, FHSU closed the game on an 8-1 run for the victory.
Fort Hays State heads for Tahlequah, Okla., on Saturday (Jan. 18) for a 1:30 p.m. contest with Northeastern State.