Blitz of 3-pointers lifts Tigers to 89-79 win at Central Oklahoma
EDMOND, Okla. – Fort Hays State men's basketball scorched the nets from deep early and held on in the second half for an 89-79 win at Central Oklahoma on Wednesday (Feb. 10). The Tigers hit 17 3-point field goals overall, including their first nine attempts of the game to pick up a big road win. FHSU ran its win streak to four games, moving to 8-8 on the season, and swept the regular season home-away series with UCO. The Bronchos moved to 8-7 overall.
Fort Hays State opened the game on fire, hitting 15 of its first 20 shots over the first 14 minutes. That included a 9-of-9 effort beyond the 3-point line. At that point, FHSU had its largest lead of the game of 18 points, 40-22. The Tigers started to sniff NCAA Division II record territory with the effort from long range, threatening the record of 13 consecutive 3-point field goal makes by Fayetteville State set in 2020. However, FHSU's 10th attempt was off the mark, but it still managed to finish the half 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) from deep. Kaleb Hammeke was a perfect 4-of-4 beyond the arc in the opening half, while Quinten Rock was 4-of-5.
Jared Vitztum hit the team's 10th 3-point field goal of the first half and with that shot reached exactly 1,000 points for his career at FHSU. At that point, he had nine points for the game. He became the 22nd player in men's program history to reach the milestone. The last two 1,000-point scorers for the program are natives of Hays as Brady Werth was the last to accomplish the feat in 2019. Vitztum went on to finish with 17 points and a team-high six rebounds.
The Tigers looked to be running away with the game, but all of the sudden a few turnovers fueled a 13-3 run by the Bronchos to end the half. FHSU took an 8-point lead into halftime, 43-35.
The Bronchos continued to surge at the Tigers, opening the second half on a 10-4 burst to cut the lead down to two twice, but consecutive 3-point field goals by Alvin Thompson pushed the lead back out to eight. UCO trimmed the lead down to two at the 11:34 mark, but Nyjee Wright responded with a big 3-pointer for the Tigers. The Bronchos shaved the lead to two a couple more times, but Wright hit another big three with 7:02 to go to hold off the Bronchos. The Tigers finally gained separation again with a 6-0 burst, pushing their lead to nine with five minutes to go in the game. UCO never pulled closer than six points the rest of the way.
Hammeke finished 6-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line and added a pair of free throws for a team-high 20 points. Rock finished 4-of-6 beyond the arc and 7-of-8 at the free-throw line for 19 points. He also dished out a team-high seven assists, part of the 19 accumulated as a team. Wright gave the Tigers a big lift off the bench in just his third game back from a preseason injury, finishing with 11 points by going 3-of-4 beyond the 3-point line and 2-of-2 at the free-throw line.
Isaiah Wade led UCO with 26 points and seven rebounds, while Davon Richardson added 22 points off the bench. Cam Givens also reached double figures with 14 points for the Bronchos.
FHSU finished with season highs as a team in both overall field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. The Tigers shot 54.7 percent overall and a blistering 65.4 percent (17-of-26) beyond the 3-point line. They also were rock solid at the charity stripe, where they were 14-of-16 (87.5 percent).
The Bronchos managed to keep the game close by shooting 50.9 percent as a team overall. However, FHSU made just one more field goal in the game than UCO, but finished with 10 more makes beyond the 3-point line, which helped create the final margin of 10 points.
The Tigers will play again on Thursday night at Rogers State in their second game of a three-game road swing in Oklahoma this week. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm in Claremore.