Tiger men win tough matchup against Bronchos


Tiger Media Network

Saturday’s game between Fort Hays State University and the University of Central Oklahoma was evenly matched with nine lead changes and six ties, but ultimately the Tigers had the edge and came out on top 66-62.

It was a close game early on before FHSU pulled ahead slightly, and a last-second jumper from senior Jaheim Holden before halftime put the Tigers up 28-21. The Bronchos kept it interesting in the second half and eventually tied the score at 48-48 with just 6:28 left in the game. The Tigers then went on a 7-0 run and stayed ahead for the remaining minutes. UCO did pull within three points twice, but FHSU always had an answer.

“Our guys showed toughness down the stretch and found a way,” FHSU Head Coach Mark Johnson said. “We’ve really been able to do that all year at home. Whether it be a big play on offense or a big play on defense, our guys have found a way to close games out at the end.”  

The Tigers (18-5, 13-4) beat the Bronchos (17-8, 9-8) previously this season in Edmond, OK, 67-60.

“They wanted to beat us,” senior Elijah Nnanabu said. “We just had to stay ready and play our game. That’s what usually gets us over the hump.”

In the game at UCO, the Tigers held the MIAA leading scorer Jaden Wells to just five points. On Saturday, Wells finished with 26, including five 3-pointers. But, just two other Bronchos scored in double figures: Jayln Turner and Danquez Dawsey with 11 and 10 points.

“There’s really nothing you can do with a player like (Wells), that type of caliber of a guy,” Holden said. “You just try to maintain them as much as possible. He hit some tough shots tonight, and that happens when you play against good players.” 

“We had to make sure if he was doing what he was doing, we couldn’t let anybody else get going,” Nnanabu added.

Nnanabu led the Tigers in scoring with 18 points on 6-10 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. Holden finished with 11 off the bench, leading the charge for FHSU’s 31 total bench points. Traejon Davis scored eight points, six of which came from two big 3-pointers. Bjarni Jonsson tied for a game-high seven rebounds while Kaleb Hammeke dished out a game-high five assists.

The two wins against UCO this season come after a previous five-game losing streak to the Bronchos. According to Johnson, hitting shots towards the end of the game has been one of the differences between a win and a loss.

“We’ve been pretty good defensively all year,” he said. “We feel like when we play good offense and make shots, there’s not very many teams that can beat us.”

With five games left in the regular season, the Tigers are second in the MIAA standings. They travel next week to Missouri for two games and then finish the season at home.

“We’ve just got to control our own destiny and worry about what we can do,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a big road trip and have to find a way to go out and get some wins.”

Some of the keys, according to Holden, will be execution and accountability.

“Just guys showing up each and every day, going hard and making each other better,” he said. “We’re going to need to be at our best when we go down this stretch and then going into the tournament.”

FHSU will be back in Gross Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 to take on Pittsburg State.