Tigers take first road loss of season


CLAREMORE, Okla. – Fort Hays State put together another strong defensive effort on the road at Rogers State on Monday (Jan. 3), but struggled offensively and fell by a score of 58-51. The Tigers held another opponent under 60 points, the 10th time in 12 games this season, but a poor offensive effort from the field ultimately led to the setback. FHSU is now 10-2 overall and 5-2 in the MIAA, while RSU moved to 9-5 overall and 3-5 in the MIAA.

The Tigers turned the ball over 11 times and shot just 21.7 percent in the first half to find themselves down 27-20 at halftime. Rogers State matched Fort Hays State’s usual defensive intensity and caused the Tigers to struggle in their half court sets. The Tigers improved in the second half, shooting 41.7 percent to bring their overall game percentage to 31.9 percent, but it was still their lowest of the season. With as tough of a night as they had from the field, the Tigers made up for it by going a perfect 14-of-14 at the free-throw line.

Turnovers were a big factor in the end as Fort Hays State finished with a season-worst 17 to only eight by the Hillcats. It was too much in a possession-critical low-scoring game. Fort Hays State, NCAA Division II leader in scoring defense, held Rogers State to 58 points, just two points more than what they have allowed on average for the season, but it was the first time this season FHSU took a loss when holding its opponent under 60.

The Tigers made a few little bursts at the HIllcats in the second half, but they could never get over the hump. FHSU cut the lead to two by opening the second half on a 7-2 run, but Devin Pullum snapped the momentum by hitting a 3-point field goal. Pullum went on to finish with a game-high 16 points and five assists for the Hillcats. Rogers State held at least a five-point advantage the remainder of the second half after Pullum’s made three at the 16:55 mark.

Kaleb Hammeke finished with 13 points to lead the Tigers, while Nyjee Wright added 12. Jared Vitztum pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

Aside from Pullum’s 16 points, Joey Saracco added 10 for the Hillcats. Tylan Dean had a team-high eight rebounds. RSU finished at 43.8 percent shooting overall for the game.

The Tigers look to bounce back from their tough night on the road when they host Central Missouri at home on Thursday night (Jan. 6) at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7:30 pm, which follows the women’s contest at 5:30 pm.

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