BY CHRISTIAN PHILLIPS
PHOTO BY ALLIE SCHWEIZER
Fort Hays State vs Colorado School of Mines — 11/17/18
The sky was not falling for the Fort Hays State Men’s basketball team as they get back on track with their 75-71 win in OT at home on Saturday.
The Tigers season got off to an unfortunate 0-2 start and they were hoping there their first home game could give them some much needed momentum.
Marcus Cooper opened up the Tigers scoring on Saturday Night after multiple trips came up empty. Mistakes on both sides of the ball set the Tigers up for near disaster, but fastbreak opportunities kept the game close.
Fort Hays State tried establishing a paint presence early on the offensive side of the ball, but the rolls on the rim were going in favor of the Orediggers.
Despite the aggressive game plan by Mines, fast-breaks played a key role for the Tigers in the first half and this forced the Orediggers to call their first timeout after FHSU took a 25-23 lead.
The Tigers entered the second half up by one, 31-30
Both teams opened up with the same lineups for the second half, but changes were much needed for either team to pull away.
Another attempt to gather points in the paint started off cold as the Tigers first two trips came up empty.
Mines went on a quick 4-0 run that was interrupted by Aaron Nicholson for Fort Hays State. A jump shot by Nicholson put the Tigers back within two points and was followed by an impressive defensive stand, which also led to more points in transition.
The Tigers were forced to take a timeout with 12:21 left, trailing 46-40. A lack of offensive identity haunted the Tigers and Coach Johnson needed his bigs to settle down and take control.
Nerves were settled as the Tigers came out after the break on a 7-0 run. Brady Werth was making the impact that a majority expected him to do week in and week out.
Werth came alive in the second half as another heads-up play on defense leads to a huge dunk on the other end of the floor for his 15th points of the contest.
Fort Hays State was in the driver seat with just over a minute to go in regulation, but they couldn’t put anything together as a golden fast-break was poked away by the Orediggers and the game went to overtime tied at 61.
The Tigers would spend most of their time offensively on the free-throw line in the extra period, which would be enough to defeat the Miners 75-71.
Brady Werth and company stayed composed and didn’t allow the Miners to storm the Fort as they improve to 1-2 on the season. Werth led all scorers with 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Fort Hays vs University of Colorado Colorado Springs — 11/18/18
The Tigers were back in action Sunday evening at 4 p.m. as they hosted yet another home game against UC-Colorado Springs.
Brady Werth made is presence felt early as he got off to a faster night compared to Saturday scoring five quick points.
Fort Hays State found success with their transition offense Saturday and it seems to be a factor again on Sunday.
“We played with great effort and toughness. We didn’t play particularly well either night, but I thought we guarded really well, we forced turnovers, pressured them and we were pretty tough,” said Mark Johnson.
Sloppy gameplay by both teams as a total of 18 combined fouls riddled the slow-moving affair in the first half.
Nothing came easy for either team as it was a pretty low scoring game. The Tigers entered the half up by nine points, 35-26.
“We turned it over way too many times, 22 turnovers is ridiculous,” said Johnson. “Even in our losses, we have never really had a problem turning the ball over, this is really the first time all year.”
Fort Hays State came out of the half with the goal to gain some separation from the Mountain Lions.
“We changed our offense a little bit trying to create more room down low, and we are just having trouble creating good offense,” said Johnson.
The Tigers wouldn’t see themselves behind has the overall poor shooting affair from UCCS (13-54, 24.1% FG%) gave the Tigers ample opportunities to blow the game wide open.
Brady Werth’s fast start finished relatively cold as foul trouble kept him on the bench (2-9FG, 6-9FT, 8REB, 10PTS).
“Yesterday when Brady dunked, he’s lucky he didn’t break his wrist, he came down hard and both of his hands are pretty swollen.” said Johnson. “You can tell his shot even at the foul line- he was having a hard time releasing the ball. So, hopefully, he can do a lot better for us Tuesday.”
The players who played significant minutes for the Tigers all scored 5 plus points and with the long absence of Brady a team effort was much needed.
Both teams were sloppy on the defensive side, as both squads were in the double bonus relatively early.
Fort Hays State finished the game 21-29 (72.4%) on the line and the Mountain Lions finished 20-32 (62.5%).
The Tigers finished their two-game home stretch 2-0 and their overall record for the season is now 2-2.
Coach Mark Johnson and company are back in action November 20th against Newman.