By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
Fort Hays State moved to 12-3 overall and 7-3 in the MIAA with an 89-71 win over Missouri Southern on Thursday night (Jan. 20) at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The 89 points were a season-high for the Tigers. The Lions dropped to 8-7 overall and 5-4 in the MIAA.
Both teams had a robust shooting percentage in the first half, 56.7 by the Tigers compared to 50 percent by the Lions. The result was a 48-40 lead by the Tigers at halftime. FHSU would go on to limit the Lions to just 31 in the second half and scored over 40 points once again to pull away for the 18-point win. The Tigers shot 49.1 percent overall for the game while holding the Lions to 40.4 percent.
Missouri Southern held a lead for only 1:21 in the game before the Tigers led the final 38:12 of the contest. The Lions hit the first bucket of the contest, a 3-pointer, before a jumper by Gabe Pieschl and then a 3-point field goal by Nyjee Wright put the Tigers in front. FHSU saw their lead grow to eight four times in the first half.
Missouri Southern scored the first four points of the second half, but FHSU responded with a 5-0 burst to keep MSSU at arm’s length. The Tiger lead reached double digits by the 10:46 mark and Lions cut it back to single digits a handful of times before the Tigers closed out the game by staying solid at the free-throw line down the stretch. The game saw 47 fouls, 29 by the Lions and 18 by the Tigers. Three Lions fouled out compared to one Tiger. The Tigers were 28-of-36 at the free-throw line, which gave them a new season-high in makes at the charity stripe.
The Tigers nearly had three players reach 20 points in the game. Jared Vitztum and Kaleb Hammeke led FHSU with 22 points each against the same opponent they each had 32 points against last season in Joplin. Wright finished with 18, going a perfect 8-of-8 at the free-throw line. Hammeke was 6-of-6 at the stripe and Vitztum was 8-of-12. Combined the trio shot 64 percent from the field (16-of-25) with eight of the team’s nine 3-point field goals. Elijah Nnanabu provided the most points off the bench with 11 and tied for a team-high in rebounds with eight.
Stan Scott led the Lions with 21 points, while Avery Taggert came off the bench to score 17. Scott nearly had a double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.
Jared Vitztum pulled down eight rebounds and is now two shy of the 800 mark for his career. He looks to become just the third player in program history with at least 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, the other two being Alonzo Goldston and Mike Pauls.
The Tigers gear up for another home contest on Saturday afternoon when Pittsburg State comes to Hays. Tipoff is at 4 pm, which follows the women’s contest at 2 pm.