ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Fort Hays State found itself in a 12-0 hole right out of the gate on Thursday night (Jan. 23) and never recovered in a 79-63 loss at Missouri Western. The Tigers slipped to 7-10 overall, 1-8 in the MIAA, while the Griffons moved to 8-11 overall, 4-4 in the MIAA.
The Griffons were a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the 3-point arc to start the game, fueling a 12-0 run at the start of the proceedings. The Griffons added another three to start 5-of-5 and never trailed on their way to the 16-point win. The largest lead attained by MWSU in the first half was 17 points, reached three times before FHSU whittled the lead down to 11 at halftime, 47-36.
The Griffons held a double figure lead the remainder of the game, starting the second half on an 11-3 run to push the lead out to 19 points. A 23-point lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the game was the largest for MWSU before the final margin settled at 16.
Missouri Western was the first FHSU opponent this year to shoot less than 40 percent from the field in a win. FHSU was 7-0 this year when holding the opposition to 40 percent or less until Thursday. MWSU started the game 7-of-8 (.875), building its early 17-point lead, before cooling all the way down to 39.1 percent overall by the end of the game. The Tigers struggled from the field throughout to just 36.7 percent overall, the fourth time they shot less than 40 percent this season and surprisingly have a 2-2 record in those performances.
Offensive rebounds were key for the Griffons as they pulled down 16, leading to a 10-point advantage on second-chance points. MWSU outrebounded FHSU overall 45-31.
Jared Vitztum and Jake Hutchings tied for high-point honors for the Tigers, each with 17. They were the only Tigers in double figures. Vitztum led in rebounds with nine, falling just short of a third double-double this season.
Tyrell Carroll and Will Eames tied for the team lead in scoring for MWSU, each with 18. Tyus Millhollin was right behind with 17, hitting four of MWSU's 12 3-point field goals in the game.
The Tigers now prepare for a meeting with No. 2 ranked Northwest Missouri State on Saturday (Jan. 25) in Maryville at 3:30 pm. The Bearcats are the defending NCAA Division II national champions and have lost just once this season.