Vitztum scores career-high 29 but Tigers fall in Kearney, 84-80
KEARNEY, Neb. — Early struggles were too much to overcome for the Fort Hays State Men's Basketball team on Saturday (Dec. 5) in an 84-80 loss at Nebraska-Kearney. The Tigers trailed by 15 at halftime and put together a late rally that came up short after trailing by double figures the majority of the game.
Jared Vitztum finished with a career-high 29 points, scoring 26 in the second half. From the 12:02 to 6:41 marks of the second half, Vitztum went on a tear scoring 19 straight points for the Tigers. But UNK did enough to counter Vitztum's scoring effort to keep a sizable lead. The Lopers led by 21 points (their largest of the game) when Vitztum started his scoring streak, but he cut it down to nine points three times at the back end of his run. Vitztum also pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Down 41-26 at halftime, the Tigers scored 54 points in the second half. UNK led by 21 points with 11 minutes to go in the game, but FHSU really kicked it in gear with a 42-25 run to close out the game. UNK never trailed as FHSU tied the score twice early on at 2-2 and 4-4. The Lopers maintained a double-figure lead from the 12:56 mark of the first half to the 7:58 mark of the second half.
A quick 5-0 burst by the Tigers on a pair of Vitztum free throws and a Quinten Rock 3-pointer had the UNK lead down to just five points with 1:15 to go in the game, but UNK pulled back ahead by nine with four straight free throws. UNK had several 1-of-2 efforts at the free-throw line in the final 40 seconds, allowing FHSU to cut the lead all the way down to just three with three seconds remaining. However, it was not enough as UNK hit one final free throw to put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
Vitztum went 9-of-15 from the field and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Rock also reached double figures with 15 points, going 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-3 beyond the 3-point line. Rock also led the Tigers in assists with six.
Jake Walker led the scoring effort for UNK with 20 points, doing half of his scoring damage at the free-throw line. Sam Morris added 18, Matt Brien had 16, and Darian Nebeker had 12. The Lopers shot 54.2 percent as a team. UNK made nine more free-throws in the game than FHSU, going 23-of-31, which was a big enough gap to overcome FHSU leading in field goals made by three. FHSU was 14-of-16 at the free-throw line.
Nebraska-Kearney moved to 1-2 on the season, while Fort Hays State still searches for its first win now at 0-3.