Cold shooting down the stretch prevented the Fort Hays State men from pulling the upset of No. 23-ranked Rogers State on Thursday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers went 63% from the field in the first half but shot at just a 32% clip after the break, dropping a 74-68 decision to the Hillcats.
"We had our opportunities," FHSU coach Mark Johnson said. "It really comes down to … basketball’s a simple game — whoever puts it in the basket the most usually wins."
The Tigers led by a point with 12 minutes remaining but went 1 of 11 from the field for a 10-minute plus stretch. Despite the shooting struggles, the Tigers were still within three with 1:30 remaining but could draw no closer.
Rogers State’s Marques Sumner helped put the game out of the reach with back-to-back buckets to give the Hillcats an eight-point cushion with 24 seconds left.
"They just made shots," FHSU sophomore point guard Nyjee Wright said. "Down the stretch, (Sumner) came out and made some big shots. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a shot. That was the difference.
"We had some good looks, we just didn’t step up and make them."
FHSU struggled mightily from the 3-point range, going 1 of 14 from distance while the Hillcats (21-5, 13-4 MIAA) went 9 of 19.
"We got beat at the 3-point line. That was basically the difference," Johnson said.
Wright led the Tigers with 17 points, while Jared Vitztum notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Gilbert Peters added 10 points off the bench.
Sumner scored a game-high 23 points. He was 9 of 15 from the field and 5 of 9 from behind the arc.
"There was no question (Sumner) was by far the best player on the floor tonight," Johnson said.
The Tigers dropped to 12-13 overall and 5-11 in the MIAA. They were tied for ninth place in the standings heading into Saturday’s Senior Day matchup with Northeastern State.