By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
TOPEKA, Kan. – Fort Hays State Men’s Basketball remained unbeaten on the season by grinding out a hard-fought 68-58 win at Washburn on Wednesday night (Dec. 1). The Tigers moved to 5-0 overall and start conference play at 1-0, knocking off a team that started the season ranked No. 11 in the nation.
Fort Hays State continued its recipe of holding opponents under 60 points as Washburn came close with 58. The Tigers entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense at 46.8 points per game. The win snapped Washburn’s six-game win streak against the Tigers that dated back to the 2017-18 season. It was FHSU’s first win in Topeka since the 2016-17 season.
Though Washburn opened the game on a 6-0 run, the Tigers clawed their way back to tie the game at 14-14 at the 12:36 mark of the first half and then took their first lead of the game, 17-14, on a Kaleb Hammeke 3-point field goal in the left corner. It capped a quick 7-0 burst by the Tigers. With Washburn getting the first bucket of the game, it snapped Fort Hays State’s streak of not trailing for four consecutive games.
Washburn moved back into the lead momentarily, but FHSU took the lead back for good on a Gabe Pieschl jump shot to go up 21-20 at the 7:49 mark. The Tigers scored the final five points of the first half to take a seven-point lead, 36-29, into halftime.
Washburn would cut the lead down to three points in the second half three times, the latest at the 3:12 mark on an Isaiah Thorne 3-point field goal. But the Tigers withstood every Washburn run in the second half and held on to their lead.
Nyjee Wright led the Tigers with 15 points, collecting nearly half the points at the charity stripe where he was 7-of-9. Jared Vitztum was right behind with 14 points, making 10-of-15 free throws. Pieschl and Geoff Hamperian led the Tigers in rebounding each with six. Wright led the Tigers in assists with four.
Andrew Orr led the Ichabods in scoring with 14 points, followed by Michael Keegan with 13. Keegan had a team-high seven rebounds and Thorne led the Ichabods in assists with six.
The biggest difference in the game was the free-throw line, where the Tigers outscored the Ichabods by 11. FHSU was 24-of-34 at the line, while WU was 13-of-19.
The Tigers will travel to Emporia State on Saturday for another MIAA contest. Game time is set for 3:30 pm at White Auditorium, which follows the women’s contest at 1:30 pm.