By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
Fort Hays State had a rough night shooting the basketball on its home floor against the No. 3/1 ranked team in the country Thursday night (Jan. 14). FHSU managed to hang around and tie Northwest Missouri State with 5:50 to play, but FHSU scored just two points the rest of the way and fell 64-51.
Northwest Missouri, ranked No. 3 in the latest NABC Top 25 Poll and No. 1 in the D2SIDA Media Poll, managed to never trail in a low-scoring game. The Bearcats took a 10-point within the first six minutes and led by that margin five times before the halftime horn sounded. NWMSU took a 31-21 lead to the locker room. FHSU shot just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from the field in the first half and just 2-of-10 (20 percent) beyond the 3-point arc despite having several good looks.
FHSU kept making minor dents in the NWMSU lead in the second half. The Bearcats had an answer for most of the little Tiger bursts and held leads of 12 points twice before the Tigers made a big run.
Jordan Pumphrey triggered a quick 13-1 run by the Tigers on a 3-pointer with 8:11 remaining. Kaleb Hammeke then added an old-fashioned 3-point play to get the lead down to six and added a stick-back shot on the next Tiger possession to trim the margin to four. After an NWMSU free throw, Quinten Rock made things even more interesting by hitting a 3-pointer trimming the lead to two. The Bearcats turned the ball over with an offensive foul and then Rock made a driving runner to tie the game, 49-49, with 5:50 to go. Despite their struggles for the rest of the game, FHSU went 5-of-6 from the field during their 13-1 run and held NWMSU 0-of-3 with a turnover.
Unfortunately, the Tigers could not sustain their momentum and were outscored by the Bearcats 15-2 the rest of the way. FHSU went 0-of-7 from the field over the final five minutes of the game picking up its two points on free throws.
FHSU shot just 35.2 percent from the field overall, the first time it shot under 40 percent in a game this year. Take away the 13-1 burst in the second half, FHSU was just 14-of-48 (29.1 percent) from the field for the rest of the game.
FHSU did a good job of controlling NWMSU beyond the 3-point line. The Bearcats were just 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) beyond the arc, but still managed to shoot 44.2 percent overall.
Rock led FHSU in scoring with 12 points, followed by Hammeke with 11. Jared Vitztum pulled down a team-best seven rebounds, while Hammeke, Rock, and Alvin Thompson all had three assists.
Point guard Trevor Hudgins led the Bearcats in scoring with 29 points and four assists, while Ryan Hawkins also reached double figures in scoring with 14.
FHSU gets a crack at another ranked opponent on Saturday afternoon when Missouri Western comes to Hays. The Griffons are ranked No. 16 by the NABC and No. 22 by D2SIDA. Missouri Western won its first meeting with the FHSU men back on January 2 in St. Joseph by eight points.