Jordan Pumphrey sparks Tigers past Lopers

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News

After breaking out of an offensive funk with 19 points a week ago against Pittsburg State, Fort Hays State's Jordan Pumphrey carried the momentum over to Saturday's game against Nebraska-Kearney. 

FHSU's Jordan Pumphrey hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points in the Tigers' win over Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday.
Kaleb Hammeke leaves the floor as he passes on Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney.
FHSU's Jared Vitztum shoots a jumper on Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney.

Pumphrey put on a shooting clinic, hitting seven of nine 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 25 points to help propel the Tigers to a 79-68 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum. 

Pumphrey gave the Tigers an immediate spark off the bench after Fort Hays got off to a cold start from the field. 

"We knew they were playing a lot of zone and we worked all week against the zone," FHSU coach Mark Johnson said. "It just felt like we were timid, unsure of ourselves to start the game. Nobody really wanted to shoot it. 

"Then Jordan came in and just lifted the seal off the basket and it relaxed everybody."

Pumphrey hit four 3-pointers in the first half and three more after halftime. He finished 9 of 11 from the field. 

"When the first one went in, I felt good," Pumphrey said. "Then another one, and they just kept coming and coming. My teammates just gave me the confidence. They said, 'Hey, if you're open, shoot it."

Pumphrey started the season with 12 points in the opener against Washburn, but he didn't reach double digits again until the Pitt State game. He was 8 of 25 from 3 on the season entering Saturday. 

"He's 6-(foot)-4 and he shoots it over his head, so he can pretty much get that shot off at all times," Johnson said. "Like a lot of guys, he is a streak shooter somewhat. When he gets it going and gains confidence, you just knew it was going in."

Pumphrey, a junior guard in his first year at Fort Hays after transferring Cerro Coso (Calif.) Community College, said it was one of his best shooting games.

"In JUCO, I had a lot of these games," said Pumphrey, a Bakersfield, Calif., native. "I just try to stay humble and consistently build on it."

The Tigers (5-8) took a 35-33 lead into halftime after a 3-pointer from Jared Vitztum in the closing seconds of the half. 

The Lopers led 55-54 midway through the second half but the Tigers unleashed a 17-1 run to put UNK away. FHSU hit 7 of 11 shots from the field during the run.

Vitztum put up 20 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. 

Redshirt freshman guard Kaleb Hammeke also turned in a solid game, finishing with 12 points and just one turnover. 

"The two things Kaleb needs to continue to improve throughout his career is limit his turnovers and shoot the ball better," Johnson said. "You look at two of the last three games, he shot it well from 3 against Southern (3 of 5), today he was 2 of 3, and he limited his turnovers. When he does that, he's a good player for us."

FHSU had 23 assists as a team on 30 made field goals. Quinten Rock dished out eight assists.

The Tigers went 53% from the field (30 of 57) and hit 13 of 26 3-pointers. 

Austin Luger led the Lopers with 18 points, while Jake Walker added 17 and RJ Pair 12. 

The win helped keep Fort Hays in a position to make the MIAA Tournament if the Tigers make a late-season push. The Tigers are currently in 11th place in the standings and need to climb to the eighth spot, which is currently held by Rogers State at 6-8. 

"Like I told the guys, we got to take care of these two weeks if we want the last two weeks of the season to be meaningful games," Johnson said. "They answered the bell today. They're a good group of guys. They don't always make the right reads or do the right things or always play the best, but their minds and their hearts are always in the right spots. We just got to keep moving forward."

FORT HAYS STATE 79, NEBRASKA-KEARNEY 68

UNK (5-9) — Nebeker 1-2 2-2 4, Luger 8-17 1-2 18, Arnold 3-8 1-2 9, Walker 4-9 7-7 17, Johnson 1-4 0-0 3, Brien 1-2 0-0 3, Pair 5-9 0-0 12, Crook 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 23-51 13-15 68. 

FHSU (5-8) — Jonsson 3-5 1-3 7, Vitztum 9-14 2-2 22, Thompson 1-8 0-0 3, Rock 2-8 0-0 5, Hammeke 4-7 1-1 12, Pumphrey 9-11 0-0 25, Peters 0-1 0-0 0, Pieschl 2-3 1-2 5. Totals 30-57 6-9 79. 

Halftime: FHSU 35-33. 3-point goals — UNK 9-25 (Arnold 2-5, Walker 2-7, Pair 2-3, Luger 1-4, Johnson 1-3, Brien 1-2, Nebeker 0-1). FHSU 13-26 (Pumphrey 7-9, Hammeke 2-3, VItztum 2-2, Thompson 1-5, Rock 1-6, Pieschl 0-1). Rebounds — UNK 29 (Luger 6, Arnold 6). FHSU 26 (Vitztum 6). Assists — UNK 16 (Walker 5). FHSU 23 (Rock 8). Turnovers — UNK 15, FHSU 11. Total fouls — UNK 12, FHSU 13. Fouled out — Luger. Attendance — 1,085.