FHSU men win season opener at SW Minnesota State
The Fort Hays State men's basketball team picked up a big road win in its season opener at Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday (Nov. 9) in Marshall, Minn. Trailing by five at halftime, FHSU buried 10 3-point field goals in the second half to run past the Mustangs 89-72.
The Tigers remained red-hot from 3-point range the entire game, shooting 13-of-18 beyond the arc (72.2 percent). The Tigers went 10-of-13 beyond the arc in the second half, with Carson Konrade and James Fleming burying four each.
The first half was closely contested as the lead traded hands seven times and the game was tied four times. FHSU enjoyed a pair of six-point leads before SMSU stormed back to lead by five at the break.
The SMSU lead grew to six early in the second half before three 3-point field goals and a three-point play eventually pushed FHSU back into the lead. After SMSU took a one-point lead at 47-46, a pair of 3-pointers by Craig Nicholson and Fleming pushed FHSU ahead by five. The Mustangs would tie the game again, but Konrade had two consecutive 3-point field goals sandwiched by a SMSU free-throw that would push the Tigers back in front by five and into the lead for good. The Tiger lead grew to 19 with 3:46 to go and SMSU would not get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Nicholson turned in an amazing season-opening double-double performance of 29 points and 11 assists. Nicholson was 7-of-12 from the field for the game, a perfect 1-of-1 beyond the 3-point line, and 14-of-15 at the free-throw line. He hit his first 12 free-throw attempts. He nearly had a triple-double, pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. He nearly went the distance in the game, playing 39 minutes.
Konrade was near perfect from the field, 7-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 beyond the 3-point line for 19 points. James Fleming was 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 beyond the 3-point line, adding a free-throw for 17 points. Tomislav Gabric also reached double figures in scoring with 13 points, hitting two 3-point field goals. FHSU only had eight points from its starting forwards, Jake Stoppel with six and Dwayne Brunson with two.
William Giddings led a balanced scoring attack for SMSU with 16 points. Shaun Condon added 15, Matt Zager had 13, Vinard Birch had 11, and Nick Smith had 10.
FHSU shot 47.5 percent overall for the game and held SMSU to 36.8 percent. The Tigers held the Mustangs to just 17.4 percent beyond the 3-point line. FHSU also fared well at the free-throw line, hitting 20-of-26 attempts (76.9 percent).
Fort Hays State (1-0) takes on Upper Iowa (0-1) on Sunday at 2 pm. Upper Iowa fell to Northwest Missouri State in the contest previous to Fort Hays State's game.