TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Fort Hays State canned 13 three-point field goals, including its first six attempts of the second half, but it was not enough to get past Northeastern State on Thursday evening (Jan. 9). The RiverHawks made timely shots each time the Tigers rallied and held on by a score of 76-70 on their home floor, moving to 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the MIAA. FHSU fell to 6-7 overall and 0-5 in the MIAA.
The Tigers fell victim to an opponent shooting at least 50 percent from the field for a third straight game. The RiverHawks were right at 50 percent for the game, burying 25-of-50 attempts. They also limited mistakes, turning the ball over just four times. To counter the flurry of 13 three-pointers made by the Tigers, the RiverHawks buried 12.
Kendrick Thompson had the hottest hand on the night, hitting 11-of-15 field goals for 29 points. He was 7-of-11 beyond the three-point arc. Caleb Smith was also a thorn in the side of the Tigers from deep scoring 20 points, which included a 4-of-8 effort beyond the arc, and was perfect at the free-throw line (6-of-6). Josh Ihek played a big role in low for NSU pulling down eight rebounds, while blocking four shots.
The Tigers held two-point leads three times in the first half before the RiverHawks took a 35-28 advantage into halftime with an 11-2 run. FHSU clawed within two twice early in the second half before eventually tying the game 50-50 at the 10:44 mark on an Aaron Nicholson three-pointer.
A pair of free throws by Jared Vitztum with 8:29 to go in the game gave FHSU its only lead of the second half at 54-53. However, Thompson of NSU went on an 8-0 run by himself, which included a pair of three-point field goals. A Jake Hutchings triple and another pair of free throws from Vitztum had the Tigers back within two with 5:39 to go, but Thompson buried a three again to hold off the Tiger surge.
FHSU was 9-of-9 at the free-throw line up until the last 1:15 of the game, but missed its final three attempts in the most crucial moments of the game. The last two misses occurred with just under 30 seconds remaining could have pulled the Tigers within one, but NSU put the game away by hitting all six of its attempts after that.
Vitztum led the Tiger scoring effort with 18 points, canning 4-of-5 three-point field goals. He was a perfect 6-of-6 at the free-throw line. Nicholson had 15 points, hitting three shots beyond the arc. Hutchings also hit three shots beyond the arc and was 3-of-3 at the charity stripe, finishing with 14 points. Devin Davis also reached double figures with 10 points. The Tigers finished at 47.1 percent from the field as a team, which included 52 percent shooting beyond the 3-point line. The Tigers had five more turnovers (9) than the RiverHawks, which turned into a 12-7 advantage in points off turnovers for the RiverHawks.
The Tigers continue the quest to snap their cold spell in MIAA play when they play at Rogers State in Claremore, Oklahoma on Saturday (Jan. 11) at 4 pm.