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Tiger men fall in MIAA quarters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fort Hays State University played in the second contest of the MIAA quarterfinals Friday afternoon at Municipal Auditorium. In the first game, No. 9 seed Northeastern (Okla.) State University upset top-ranked University of Central Missouri, a team vying to host the Central Regional next week.

Fort Hays fell down 13-0 early against University of Central Oklahoma and eventually lost 83-68. The 22-7 Tigers, ranked fourth in the tournament and No. 6 in the Central Region, will have to watch the MIAA and Great American Conference tournaments throughout the weekend to see if they qualify for next week’s NCAA Division II field. The bracket is announced Sunday night; top eight in each region qualify.

No. 5 UCO (19-9) moves on to play Northeastern State in the semifinals Saturday. If one of those teams wins the conference tournament, it will steal an NCAA bid.

FHSU had defeated UCO twice in the regular season, both with big comebacks down the stretch. Fort Hays won the first game 101-97 in overtime and the second time, 80-79, last week in Hays. This week, Johnson said the Tigers “stole” both wins.

UCO led 46-32 at halftime. Fort Hays closed to 65-59 with just under nine minutes to play, but the Bronchos had a 14-0 run that included a pair of technical fouls on the Tigers. Josh Gibbs, UCO’s two-time first team all-league player, scored a career-high 34 points.