STORY BY CHRISTIAN PHILLIPS
FHSU Men’s team rebounded from their loss to Lindenwood on Thursday with a 72-63 victory over the Lincoln Blue Tigers at home behind Brady Werth’s 22 points.
The more confident Brady Werth opened up scoring for the Tigers, which sparked better offensive movement that led to three-point opportunities. Jared Vitztum led the way with two three-pointers in the first half and finished the first period with eight points in 15 minutes. Vitztum ended the game with 10 points. Devin Davis (18 points) and Grant Holmes (nine points) also hit two three-point shots each.
Fort Hays State cleaned up the fouls on the defensive side, and at one point jumped out to an 11 point lead. Despite all of the missed blockouts by FHSU, the Tigers improved tremendously compared to Thursday nights performance when staying on assignments.
Devin Davis for the Tigers continued his influence off the bench, going 4-4 from the field, 1-1 from three for nine points in the first half while Brady Werth paced the Tigers in scoring with 10.
A 9-0 run by Lincoln cut the Tigers lead down to five. Fort Hays struggled against the three, forcing a timeout by Coach Johnson. FHSU led at halftime, 32-29.
“I thought it was disappointing at the end to have a three-point lead, They made some threes late and we couldn’t score,” said Johnson of closing out the first half. “But I thought we played really hard and battled to do everything we possibly could.”
The Blue Tigers came out of the half with a sense of urgency and regained the lead with 17:13 left. Lincoln confidently shot the three ball, forcing the Tigers first timeout of the half.
Brady Werth struggled to contest the three by Lincoln’s Olsson Grant. Grant finished the game with 24 points.
“Brady has a hard time guarding anybody who shoots threes and can drive it,” said Coach Johnson on Werth struggling to guard Olsson Grant from three. Grant typically averages 9.5 points per game.
Werth stopped the Blue Tigers surge with a commanding performance in the paint. Werth padded the stat sheet once again this afternoon playing 38 minutes and finishing 10-16 from the field for 22 points.
Devin Davis recorded another 18 point performance off the bench, giving the Tigers much needed scoring outside of the starting five. Davis fouled out of the contest with 3:26 left.
“Brady came up big down the stretch, but obviously Devin like you said at the beginning of the year, he’s an old school Vinnie Microwave Johnson from the Pistons,” said Johnson. “When you put him in, he can get some points in a hurry.”
“He plays with a lot of energy and passion, he’s continuously gotten better, but he needs to clean up the defensive assignments,” said Johnson of Davis. “We just need him to continue to do the other things at a better execution level.”
Kyler Kinnamon and Aaron Nicholson both struggle to produce offensive success in the scoring column. Kinnamon finished with six points for the night and Aaron left empty-handed.
The much improved defensive performance by the Tigers kept the game from getting out of reach after falling behind midway through the second half. Coach Johnson’s team pulled away late in what seemed like a must-win game to stay near the top of the MIAA standings.
Fort Hays State improves its overall record to 15-9 and 12-2 at home.
Tiger Fans can catch the men back in action on the road at Central Oklahoma on February 21st at 7:30. P.M.