Tigers need overtime, outlast Lions 102-94 in Joplin
JOPLIN, Mo. - Fort Hays State picked up a big road win on Thursday night (Jan. 21), needing overtime to outlast Missouri Southern 102-94. Kaleb Hammeke had a new career-high 32 points, while Jared Vitztum matched Hammeke with a massive double-double effort of 32 points and 15 rebounds, also his career high in scoring. FHSU moved to 4-7, while Missouri Southern dropped to 5-6. Both of FHSU's road wins this season have been in overtime.
The 102 points scored by the Tigers were the most in a true road game during Mark Johnson's 20-year tenure as head coach. It matched the most points by the Tigers in an MIAA regular season contest, also accomplished in a 102-89 win over Southwest Baptist back on January 9, 2010 in Hays. It was, however, the most points scored by the Tigers in a true-road contest in MIAA regular season play as their history with the conference dates back to the 2006-07 season. The previous high for points scored on the road under Mark Johnson was 101, accomplished twice (101-97 win at Central Oklahoma in OT on Jan. 16, 2014, and 101-109 loss at Colorado School of Mines in 2OT on November 17, 2017).
The record for most points against an MIAA team during FHSU's tenure with the MIAA still stands, that being a 103-102 overtime win against Missouri Southern in the MIAA Tournament on neutral grounds in Kansas City back on March 2, 2012.
The Tigers shot 44 free throws and made 38 (86.4 percent) as the charity stripe was a big key to their win. FHSU outscored MSSU by 15 points at the free-throw line as a total of 58 fouls were called in the contest. MSSU finished just 23-of-36 at the line (63.9 percent). That helped the Tigers make up for just 40.8 percent shooting from the field, though they held the Lions to 44.3 percent overall.
After trailing 14-1 to open the game over the first six minutes of action, the Tigers climbed back in by outscoring the Lions 25-12 over the next 8:22, tying the score 26-26. The Tigers took slim leads four times before the Lions took a two-point lead into halftime, 37-35, scoring the last basket of the half with six ticks left on the clock.
FHSU hit the first basket of the second half to tie the game before MSSU went on a quick 7-0 run. The Tigers regrouped out of a timeout to go on a 15-6 run over 3:42 of action, taking the lead once again 52-50. There were two ties and two lead changes up and four lead changes up until the 11:52 mark when the Tigers took the lead for nearly the remainder of the game. The Tigers nudged ahead by five three times and even six with 4:36 to go, but they couldn't shake the Lions off in regulation. MSSU's Stan Scott converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 15 seconds remaining, knotting the score 82-82. Quinten Rock's 3-point attempt just before the final horn was off the mark to the left a bit, sending the game to overtime.
The Tigers would never trail in overtime as Vitztum opened the scoring with a 3-point play, putting the Tigers up three. Hammeke added a couple more free throws to make the lead five. From that point, MSSU cut the lead inside three only once. The Tigers sealed the game by remaining steady at the free-throw line in overtime, going 15-of-17 in the extra five-minute period. Fort Hays State's two high-point men closed the game well in overtime, Hammeke going 8-of-8 at the line and Vitztum 3-of-3.
Vitztum produced his seventh double-double of the season, while going 11-of-18 from the field and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Hammeke was 9-of-18 from the field with three 3-point field goals, while going 11-of-12 at the line. Alvin Thompson tacked on a season-high 19 points for the Tigers, helping his cause with an 8-of-10 effort at the free-throw line. Rock dished out a team-high four assists. Jordan Pumphrey turned in some big minutes off the bench by pulling down a new season-high nine rebounds.
The magic scoring number for individuals on the evening was 32 as Scott of Missouri Southern also had that number to match Hammeke and Vitztum. He added 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. He blew past his career high in scoring by 12 points with 20 as his previous high this season against Missouri Western. The Tigers held MIAA scoring leader Cam Martin in check at six points under his season average, yet he finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 4:36 to go in regulation. Martin was just 5-of-12 from the field and 6-of-10 at the free-throw line and the 19 points matched his second-lowest scoring output in a game this season.
The Tigers snapped a four-game losing skid dating back to Jan. 2 and also snapped a three-game skid in road games. They return to action on Saturday (Jan. 23) at Pittsburg State. Game time is set for 3:30 pm inside John Lance Arena, which follows the women's game at 1:30 pm.