BY MAKENNA ALLEN
After a weekend at home shortened by COVID-19 protocols, Tiger basketball will hit the road this week for another four-day road swing. The schedule for both the men’s and women’s teams holds games against Missouri Southern on Thursday and Pittsburg State on Saturday.
For the Tiger women, this road trip provides the opportunity to extend their two-game winning streak. The Tigers had hoped to further their success on Saturday until their game against Missouri Western State was postponed just hours before tip-off.
According to women’s basketball coach, Tony Hobson, the make-up date for the game is set for Mon., Feb. 8.
Ultimately, Hobson saw this change in schedule as a deflating shift for a team that was prepared to play. However, such an occurrence was not unexpected in a year altered by COVID-19.
“You go into it just waiting for something to happen,” Hobson said.
For both Tiger teams, this uncertainty can be stressful and frustrating. However, Hobson best describes this season of last-minute changes as strange.
“Strange is probably the way to describe it just because you’re holding your breath around every corner,” Hobson said. “You’re either worried about your team being healthy to play and passing tests, or the team you’re playing, or the team you played in the past, or whatever.”
Despite this “strange” weekend and challenges in maintaining momentum, the women still managed one victory over the course of the week.
On Thursday the Tigers defeated the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats by a 25-point margin. FHSU took an early lead in the game and never trailed throughout the course of play. They were able to build a great enough advantage to allow younger team members to gain valuable minutes of play.
Thanks to this team effort, the Tigers progressed to 7-2 for the season while going 48.1% from the field, 45.0% from beyond the three-point arc, and 83.8% from the free-throw line.
While the women had a successful Thursday evening, the FHSU men’s basketball team was unable to say the same regarding their performance, coming up just short against the No. 3/1 ranked Bearcat team.
FHSU struggled to shoot at home in Gross Memorial and trailed most of the game. Despite a final-quarter effort that tied the game, the Tigers were unable to hold on to their momentum, ultimately falling 64-51.
While freshman, Quinten Rock, led the team in points scored with 12, the Tigers shot just 35.2% from the field. This was the first time the Tigers have shot less than 40% this season. The Bearcats also managed to hold the Tigers to just 22.7% from beyond the three-point arc.
Despite the team’s difficulty shooting, men’s basketball head coach, Mark Johnson, was ultimately pleased with his team’s performance.
“We had our opportunities. I always tell our guys, most games you can win with great effort, toughness, and intelligence. And then you have a handful of games every year that the opponent you’re playing, you’re going to have to make some shots on top of that,” Johnson said. “To beat Northwest, you’ve got to do all the things we talk about but then you’ve got to make a few shots and shoot it pretty well to make the win and we couldn’t do that last part.”
Though the men’s Tiger team looks to bounce back from defeat, the women’s team will be the first to take the court this week. Thursday evening in Joplin, MO, the Tigers will take on a 4-6 Missouri Southern Lions team. Unlike the Tigers, the Lions are looking to break a three-game losing streak. The most recent losses come at the hands of Emporia State and Washburn.
According to Hobson, the Tigers should not be fooled by Missouri Southern’s current season record.
“Southern is an issue. They’re just way better than their record. They haven’t been beat at home yet,” Hobson said. “They’ve had some tough losses and I think they’re rough. They really guard you well. It will be a tough game for us on Thursday just because of a road game and their experience and their size.”
The team is currently shooting 40.2% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the three-point arc, and 73.1% from the free-throw line. Additionally, it is important to note that the Lions suffered a loss two weeks ago at the hands of the Tigers’ Saturday opponent: the Pittsburg State Gorillas.
This Gorilla team is hot on a seven-game winning streak after starting the season 1-3. In fact, Pitt State has not lost since its game against Rogers State on Dec. 3. Even this defeat was a close one, with just four points separating the two teams when the final buzzer sounded.
Most recently, the Gorillas defeated both Washburn and Emporia. The Saturday game against Washburn culminated in an overtime victory that pushed Pittsburg State to 8-3 this season. After this game, the team is 41.4% from the field, 32.1% from long range, and 82.6% from the free-throw line.
Though the Tigers have won the last seven match-ups between the two teams, Hobson believes the game will present a challenge for his team.
“It should be a good game. It’s going to be a matter of if we can keep them out of the lane because their point guard is really good and they’ve got a really good outside shooter,” Hobson said. “We’ve kind of had their number the last few years. Hopefully that can continue.”
While the Tiger women look towards a tough week of play against the Lions and Gorillas, the men do the same with the hopes of improving their current season record of 3-7.
Thursday evening, the FHSU men’s team will be playing to snap its four-game losing streak. The team’s opponent, the Missouri Southern Lions, will be playing with a similar goal of victory in mind. However, the Lions are riding on the momentum of a win last week as the team emerged victorious in a 75-64 game against Emporia on Saturday.
Even after suffering a big 99-58 loss to No. 5 ranked Washburn last Thursday, the Lions were able to rally in order to go 49% from the field, 43% from beyond the arc, and 92.3% from the free-throw line in their match-up against Emporia. During the course of that game, the Lions also forced 20 turnovers and scored 18 points from them.
Throughout the course of the game, the Tigers will be looking to limit the power of Missouri Southern senior, Cam Martin, who has recorded as many as 33-points in a single game this season.
“You’ve got to do a good enough job trying to keep him in the 20’s without letting these other guys blow you up,” Johnson said.
While the Tigers must be aware of the Lions’ strong performance in their most recent game, they must also focus on their opponent for Saturday’s game in Pittsburg, KS. Though the Gorillas have a losing record for this season of 5-6, they are still averaging 44.4% from the field, 34.7% from long-range, and 65.9% from the free-throw line.
Just like the Tigers, the Gorillas will be looking to bounce back from losses in last week’s play. Indeed, the Pittsburg team fell by just three points last Thursday in a game against Emporia State before going on to suffer an 84-62 loss at the hands of Washburn on Saturday.
As both teams hit the road this week, Gross Memorial Coliseum will remain quiet and empty of Tiger fans. However, Tiger basketball fans can still support both of their teams by logging on to the MIAA network page to access a live stream of the games. Thursday’s games against Missouri Southern begin at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the women will tip-off against Pittsburg State at 1:30 p.m. while the men will play at 3:30 p.m.