By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
EMPORIA, Kan. – Fort Hays State trailed by 13 points at halftime, but stormed back in the second half to force overtime and eventually won on a sweeping hook shot in the lane by Kaleb Hammeke with 15 seconds remaining to break a tie game. Tray Buchanan’s shot in the waning seconds for Emporia State fell off the mark as the Tigers gutted out a 78-76 win at Emporia State to move to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the MIAA.
Emporia State (6-2 overall, 1-1 MIAA) shot a blistering 51.7 percent in the first half and finished the opening period on a 22-6 run to take a 37-24 lead into the locker room. Jumah’Ri Turner had 17 points for the Hornets by halftime on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-3 effort beyond the 3-point line.
The Tigers started to clamp down defensively and opened the second half on a 14-5 run to get the Hornet lead down to four points just four minutes after halftime. The Tigers kept chipping away and then used a 7-0 run capped on a Jared Vitztum 3-point field goal with 7:22 to go in regulation to tie the game at 58-58. Quinten Rock then gave FHSU its first lead of the second half on a Quinten Rock 3-point field goal. The Tigers went on to lead by four with three minutes to go, but a 4-point play by Buchanan with 1:41 to go put the Hornets back on top by one. A Vitztum free throw with 1:22 would be the final scoring of the half as each team missed shots on their final two possessions.
Neither team would lead by more than two in the extra period. Nyjee Wright made a big driving layup with 58 seconds to get the game tied. The Tigers got a stop defensively on the ensuing ESU possession, and then Hammeke provided the game-winner for the Tigers with 15 seconds to go. The Tigers held the Hornets scoreless inside the final two minutes of overtime.
Vitztum led the Tigers with a big double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Hammeke finished with 17 points, Wright had 16, and Geoff Hamperian added 11 to give the Tigers four scorers in double figures. Wright and Hamperian each had three 3-point field goals in the game. After shooting just 41.7 percent in the first half, the Tigers heated to 56 percent in the second half to force the overtime.
Buchanan scored 24 of his game-high 29 points for the Hornets after halftime. He was a perfect 11-of-11 at the free-throw line. The Tigers slowed Turner to just four points after halftime, but he still finished with 21. Mayuom Buom provided a double-double in the post for the Hornets with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
This was the first contest the Tigers allowed at least 60 points in a game to an opponent this season as they entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense at 49 points per game. The Hornets were only able to shoot 37 percent in the second half and just 22.2 percent in the overtime period and finished at 41.5 percent overall after the over 50 percent performance in the first half.
The Tigers get back to action at home on Monday night (Dec. 6) when they host Avila University at 7 pm inside Gross Memorial Coliseum.