Johnson Collects 300th Career Win As Tigers Knock Off Lions 85-82 in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. – Fort Hays State pulled out a hard-fought 85-82 win on the road at Missouri Southern on Saturday (Feb. 13). Not only did the win snap a six-game road losing streak, it also gave Mark Johnson his 300th career victory as head coach of the Tigers.

Fort Hays State led the entire first half, opening the game on a 7-0 run. The lead grew to double digits at the 10:00 mark amid an 8-0 run. The Tigers led by 12 four times before the Lions ended the half on a 14-5 run to make it just a three-point game at halftime, 42-39 in favor of FHSU.

Missouri Southern took its first lead of the game at the 17:46 mark of the second half. The lead changed hands four times before FHSU pushed back in front with a 10-0 run to take a seven-point lead at the 7:08 mark. After four straight points for MSSU, the Tigers used a 6-0 run to push the lead even further to nine with 5:28 remaining.

The Lions had one more run in them, going on a 15-4 burst to take a two-point lead with 1:56 remaining, but Craig Nicholson shifted the momentum back to the Tigers by hitting a big 3-point field goal at the 1:35 mark. The Tiger defense did not allow any points to the Lions in the final 1:56 and Hadley Gillum and Kenny Enoch each hit one-of-two free throw attempts inside the final 30 seconds to push the margin to three. MSSU had two 3-point field goal attempts fall off the mark just before the final horn.

Rob Davis led the Tigers with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, which included a pair of 3-point field goals while going 6-of-6 at the free-throw line. Nicholson finished with 15 points and a team-high five assists. Stoppel and Gillum each had 12 while Gillum secured a team-high six rebounds. Enoch finished with 11 points.

FHSU held the MIAA’s top scorer Taevaunn Prince to 21 points, six shy of his average, while Charlie Brown had 15, Austin Wright had 14, and Taylor Luster had 11.

The win was big for FHSU in the conference standings, remaining in a fifth-place tie with Washburn. However, with Lindenwood and Nebraska-Kearney each taking losses on Saturday, the Tigers pulled within a game of second place in the MIAA standings and just a half-game shy of fourth. The top four teams receive byes to the quarterfinals of the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City.

FHSU returns home this coming week to take on Lindenwood (Thursday) and Lincoln (Saturday).

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