TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Fort Hays State University men’s basketball team needed 50 minutes to put away Northeastern State in a 98-89 double overtime win on Thursday night at the NSU Event Center. The Tigers snapped their four-game road slide in the process and pushed their record to 14-9 overall, 7-7 in the MIAA. The RiverHawks fell to 7-16 overall, 3-11 in the MIAA.
Fort Hays State controlled the game for the first 25 minutes, building a 12-point lead early in the second half, but a couple of careless mistakes with ball security gave Northeastern State life with 15 minutes to go in regulation. The Tigers found themselves in back-and-forth fight the rest of the way after the two quick turnovers triggered a 14-3 RiverHawk run. That run erased the Tiger lead all the way down to one with 11:46 to go in the second half.
Following a pair of free throws by the Tigers, the RiverHawks went on another burst of five straight points to take their first lead of the game, 51-49, on a Tanner Mouse 3-pointer with 10:39 remaining. That shot triggered an outburst of threes from the RiverHawks the remainder of the second half after going.
The teams traded baskets to reach a 54-54 tie, but NSU remained hot from deep as back-to-back 3-pointers by Montre' Williams and Mouse instantly put the RiverHawks up by six with 7:21 to play. At that point, NSU was on a 28-10 run from the time where FHSU had a 12-point lead. But NSU started to fall in love with the 3-point shot too much, missed three straight attempts from beyond the arc, and allowed FHSU to pull back even at 60-60 with 4:19 to play.
Hadley Gillum was key for the Tigers in the final 2:30 of the game, where he scored 12 of his team-leading 35 points. After the lead teetered back-and-forth, a Gillum 3-point field goal pushed the Tigers in front by two, 66-64, with 1:47 to play. After getting a stop, Gillum was pure on another 3-point attempt, making the score 69-64 with a minute to go in regulation. However, Trent Cantrell answered with a big three to keep the RiverHawks alive. Gillum hit two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to extend the lead back to four, but Jamir Andrews of NSU jumped in on the 3-point shooting party by hitting another with 11 seconds remaining to leave the FHSU lead at just one. Gillum had to hit both free throws once more in the clutch, and did so. However, in a scramble to find an open man just before the buzzer, the ball found Andrews' hands once more and he hit a three from the left wing to send the game to overtime. At the end of regulation, the score knotted at 73, after FHSU had a 28-23 lead at halftime.
The lead changed hands four times in the first overtime and FHSU held a three-point lead midway through the frame. However, Andrews remained red hot from beyond the arc hitting a three with 2:10 remaining to tie the game, then again with 1:15 remaining to give NSU a one-point lead. Gillum buried two more free throws to get the Tigers back in front with 45 seconds remaining and Aaron Nicholson added another with 23 seconds remaining to give FHSU a two-point lead. Lucas Antunez responded with a layup with 14 seconds to go, tying the game once more. Both teams missed late attempts to win the game and another free five minutes of basketball tacked onto the clock.
Andrews, beaming with confidence beyond the 3-point line, hoisted another deep attempt right at the start of the second overtime, but it fell off the mark. That miss took a little wind out of the NSU sails and FHSU began the second overtime on a 5-0 burst, all generated by Brady Werth with a pair of layups and a free throw. After two free throws by NSU, Werth continued his individual run with a tough jumper in the lane to push the lead back to five for FHSU at the 2:33 mark. From that point, NSU went five straight offensive trips without a field goal and the Tigers pushed the lead out to seven with 43 seconds remaining. Gillum drained three of four free throws and Marcus Cooper hit one of two to close out the hard-fought victory for FHSU. The Tigers grabbed their first overtime win of 2017-18 after dropping three overtime games earlier in the season.
Gillum and Cooper each finished the game with big double-doubles for FHSU. Gillum had 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Cooper dominated the glass, finishing with 17 rebounds to go with 20 points. Both had their 3-point shooting stroke going in the game, Cooper finishing 4-of-6 beyond the arc and Gillum 3-of-4. Gillum did a ton of damage at the free-throw line, where he went 14-of-16 after making his first 10 attempts. Gillum also shared the ball well, racking up a team-best six assists, while Cooper had five.
Fort Hays State dominated the glass as a team, outrebounding NSU by 26 (58-32). FHSU grabbed 18 offensive rebounds in the game and turned it into 22 second-chance points. FHSU had to be solid on the boards as NSU turned the ball over only three times the entire game, compared to 15 for FHSU. Werth nearly gave the Tigers three players with double-doubles as he finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Gillum, Cooper, and Werth combined for 37 of Fort Hays State's 58 rebounds. Six of the rebounds were team rebounds.
Aaron Nicholson was the fourth Tiger to reach double figures in scoring with 11 points, hitting three 3-point field goals. The Tigers as a team hit 13 shots beyond the arc as a team.
Andrews led NSU with 24 points, hitting five 3-point field goals. Antunez and Mouse each had 17 and Williams had 14. The RiverHawks also buried 13 three-point field goals, but on 10 more tries than the Tigers as they put the ball up 38 times from deep. Good for the Tigers, all six of their attempts from beyond the arc in the second overtime missed.
Fort Hays State now prepares for a meeting with Central Oklahoma on Saturday in Edmond. Game time is set for 3:30 pm at Hamilton Field House.