GOLDEN, Colo. — The Fort Hays State University men’s basketball team had a 10-point lead with a minute to go on the No. 9 ranked team in the nation, but missed several free throws down the stretch allowing Colorado School of Mines to produce a furious rally and force overtime. The Orediggers went on to win in double overtime, 109-101, extending their home court win streak to 19 games.
The game saw violent shifts of momentum. The Orediggers were in control early, up 14 with 5:32 to play before halftime by a score of 31-17. Fort Hays State, however, did not lay down for a top-10 ranked team that made the national quarterfinals last year. FHSU produced an 18-5 run, which included a 9-0 burst, to cut the lead down to one with just under a minute to play before the half. A Colorado Mines 3-pointer was the final bucket of the half as it led 39-35 at the break.
In the second half, FHSU kept chipping away early and a Kyler Kinnamon layup gave the Tigers their first lead since the first basket of the game, 42-41, at the 17:29 mark. After trading the lead back and forth for a bit, the Tigers finally took control of the lead on a Hadley Gillum 3-point field goal at the 9:25 mark. From that point, the Tigers continued to nudge their way further and further away from the Orediggers, getting the lead to 10 on a pair of free throws from Grant Holmes at the 1:38 mark. At that point, the Tigers were 13-of-15 at the free-throw line in the game.
Then like flipping a light switch, Fort Hays State's solid effort at the free-throw line turned poor at the worst time. Colorado Mines hit just 1 of 2 free-throws to make it a 9-point game with just more than 50 seconds remaining, but Kyler Kinnamon was only able to counter with 1 of 2 as well. Then Oredigger freshman Mason Baker stepped up in a flash for his team. He made a layup to cut the lead to eight, Trey O'Neil hit just 1 of 2 free throws to make it nine again, but Baker then hit a 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining to cut the lead to six. Kinnamon was unable to hit either of a pair of free throws that ensued, then Baker immediately buried another 3-pointer. All of the sudden, FHSU led by just three with 25 seconds remaining.
KeShawn Wilson took his turn at the line for FHSU, and hit just 1 of 2. After a scramble for a loose ball, Colorado Mines found Michael Glen in low for a dunk with six second remaining. FHSU led by just two. Aaron Nicholson had a chance to put the game out of reach at the line, but once again, just 1 of 2. Ben Sonnefeld of Colorado Mines then ran quickly up the sideline, and as the Tigers were trying to foul him on the floor, but the foul was called in the act of shooting. Sonnefeld attempted three free throws, and he buried all of them. In the blink of an eye, all the hard work FHSU gave to build a 10-point lead in the final 10 minutes of regulation evaporated due to a 4-for-10 free-throw shooting performance in the final minute. The game went to overtime, tied 83-83.
Fort Hays State gained the upper hand first in overtime and Colorado Mines tied the score three times in the first extra frame. A three-point play by Holmes with just less than two minutes to go had the Tigers up four, but the Orediggers rallied back to get the game tied at 93. FHSU had the last possession in the first overtime and a Trey O'Neil 3-point attempt was off the mark. Calvin Harrington tried a follow shot just before the buzzer, but it was no good as well. The teams went to a second overtime.
Colorado Mines scored the first basket of the second overtime and pushed the lead to four. The first basket at the 4:35 mark of the second overtime marked the first lead for Colorado Mines since the 13:22 mark of the second half. A Wilson 3-point field goal with 3:05 remaining cut the lead back to one, but the Orediggers were too good in this overtime period. The Tigers could not find a bucket over the next two and a half minutes as the Orediggers pulled away for the eight-point win.
The Tigers outshot the Orediggers from the field, 51.9 percent to 50 percent in regulation, but in the overtime periods, the Tigers were just 3 of 16 from the field, while the Orediggers went 7 of 9. FHSU won the ball security battle with just 11 turnovers to Colorado Mines' 19, but it was not enough as Colorado Mines finished 56.9 percent from the field for the game and FHSU finished at 41.6 percent.
Hadley Gillum had a career night for the Tigers, scoring a career-high 36 points on 11 of 19 shooting from the field with three 3-point field goals, and an 11 of 12 effort at the free-throw line. He added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Kinnamon finished with 15 points, Wilson had 13, and O'Neil had 11. Holmes provided a nice spark off the bench late with eight points.
Luke Schroepfer led the Orediggers in scoring with 28 points, followed by Sonnefeld with 25 points. Baker, the hero for Colorado Mines to get the game close in regulation, had 17 points. Duke Douglas added 12.
The Tigers nearly had an upset of a Top 25 team for the second time in just four games this season, but they will have to rebound from this tough loss and get ready to face Kansas Christian at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hays.