Konrade, Russell lead FHSU men past Mo. Southern

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

In late December, Fort Hays State University junior Carson Konrade was playing defense in practice and a teammate's knee hit him in the thigh. Konrade didn't think much of the collision and kept playing. Then, Konrade went to eat afterwards. As soon as he sat down, it swelled up all the way from the knee to the hip.

The injury forced Konrade to miss three games and slowly return.

On Saturday, Konrade, for the first time since mid-December, delivered a big game in an 83-69 victory against Missouri Southern State University at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Konrade finished with 18 points, three off his career high, including a key four-point play in the second half. He and senior Lance Russell tied for the team lead in scoring.

"It's very frustrating just having to sit and watch, and not being able to be out there, help out my team, it's a killer, that's probably worse than the injury itself, just watching," Konrade said. "I don't like just watching, so try to get healthy as quick as I can and get back out there."

Fort Hays improved to 13-6, 7-4 MIAA and won its third straight contest. The Tigers moved to 2-0 on a four-game homestand. Missouri Southern dropped to 9-10, 4-7 MIAA and lost its fifth straight contest. Before the game, Tiger coach Mark Johnson talked with Southern coach Robert Corn.

Corn said the Lions have experienced big hot and cold stretches during the season. Southern had a strong shooting night against the Tigers and finished at 45 percent for the game, including 48 percent in the first half. Junior Jordan Talbert finished with 17 points, while junior Marquis Addison, third in the conference in scoring, tacked on 14. Fort Hays shot 58 percent in the first half and led 43-33 at the break.

"I don't think our defense was great, but I don't think it was awful either," Johnson said. "I thought they hit some really tough shots. ... We still got separation. We played fairly well offensively in the first half. I don't know if we executed that well. We made good decisions and got in some gaps."

Southern closed the game to 55-53 with 10 minutes, 45 seconds left, but FHSU responded with a 17-2 run to put the game out of reach. Konrade delivered his four-point play off a corner trey and free throw to give FHSU a 63-53 lead with 8:58 remaining.

"I really like the corner 3," said Konrade, a first-year transfer from Colby Community College. "That's where I shot a lot from at Colby the last two years, so anytime I get to shoot from there, I like it."

Before his injury, Konrade had five straight games with at least nine points and four in double figures. Once he returned, Konrade had just 22 points in five games. He finished 4 of 7 from the field and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc Saturday. Later in the run, Konrade made two free throws and had a tip-in.

Fort Hays will play host to Northwest Missouri State University on Wednesday.

"Not only could he not play in games, he was hurt bad enough, he couldn't practice, he couldn't come out here and he couldn't dribble," Johnson said. "He missed a lot of time of doing nothing basketball-related, so you are already a new guy. It might be something else if you are a third- or fourth-year player in the program, you kind of come back and hit the ground running. I just think that he had to start all over."