Tigers split with Emporia

Published On: Feb 09 2014 12:00:00 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 09 2014 01:10:00 PM CST
EMPORIA, Kansas (FHSU Sports Information) -

Fort Hays State picked up a big road win on Saturday at Emporia State by a score of 65-59. FHSU closed out the game on a 9-3 run after the game was tied with 3:14 to go. The 23rd-ranked Tigers improved to 19-4 overall, 10-4 in the MIAA, while Emporia State dropped to 14-10 overall, 7-7 MIAA.

With the game knotted 56-56 with 3:14 to go, Dwayne Brunson scored three straight buckets while FHSU held ESU without a bucket all the way down to three seconds remaining. Brunson broke the tie with a layup at 2:53 remaining, then got another lay-in with 1:38 to go, while fouling out Emporia State's top post player Paul Bunch. His biggest bucket was a stick back on an offensive rebound with 21 seconds remaining to extend the FHSU lead to six. Craig Nicholson sealed the win with a pair of free-throws at 10 seconds remaining to complete an 8-0 run by the Tigers. ESU hit a late 3-pointer and Tomislav Gabric hit 1-of-2 free-throws with three seconds to go to make the final margin of six.

The game was a defensive battle throughout the evening as the teams played to a low-scoring 23-23 tie at the half. FHSU and ESU were a combined 1-of-15 beyond the 3-point line in the first half, the only 3-pointer by the Tigers. FHSU struggled to just 33.3 percent from the field in the first half. FHSU warmed to 44.4 percent in the second half, but still shot its worst field goal percentage of the season at 38.9 percent for the game. However, the Tiger defense held the Hornets to just 37.7 percent.

Neither team led by more than six points until the Nicholson free-throws with 10 seconds to play. Emporia State's largest lead was 23-17 in the first half before FHSU closed out the half on a 6-0 run to tie the game. The game was tied eight times and the lead changed five times.

Fort Hays State, the third-best free-throw shooting team in the nation entering the week, also struggled at the line early and finished at just 60 percent, its second-worst percentage in a game this year. But, the Tigers have won all three games they shot less than 70 percent at the line this year.

Dwayne Brunson led the Tigers with 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and a 10-of-13 effort at the free-throw line. After missing his first two free-throws of the night, he buried 10 free-throws in a row. Craig Nicholson finished with 21 points. The pair combined for 72 percent of Fort Hays State's points. Carson Konrade was the only other Tiger with more than five, scoring eight.

Kaleb Wright and Paul Bunch led ESU with 15 points each. Terrence Moore added 12.

Fort Hays State moved into third place alone in the MIAA standings after Missouri Southern fell at Central Missouri on Saturday. FHSU is one game back of Central Missouri in the standings and three back of first-place Northwest Missouri State. Missouri Southern is just a half game back of the Tigers, also with four losses in conference play but one win less.

No. 25 Fort Hays State's upset bid against No. 7 Emporia State fell just short on Saturday afternoon, as the Tigers dropped a 80-77 road contest in Emporia, Kan.
The Tigers fell to 16-5 (9-5 MIAA) on the season, while ESU is now 21-2 (12-2 MIAA).  Fort Hays State had knocked off ESU earlier last week in Hays, and fell just one possession short of sweeping the series.
FHSU shot over 45 percent from the field for the first time since Jan. 11, and hit on 6-of-13 from 3-point range, but 21 turnovers for the Tigers proved costly.

Kate Lehman posted her second consecutive double-double, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds.  It was Lehman's second straight performance of at least 20 points, as she had a career-high 33 points against Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday.
Tera Ingaslbe finished with 15 points, just three short of her career-high, with all her tallies coming in the first half.
Beth Bohuslavsky hit double-digits with 10 points, while Keriann Shaw pulled down nine rebounds (second most on the team).

Tied 6-6 just 2:34 into the game, Ingalsbe hit a jumper to start a 14-6 run for FHSU that lasted just less than six minutes and gave the Tigers a 20-12 lead.  ESU, however, answered with an 11-3 run of its own, tying the game at 25 with 8:05 remaining in the half.
Less than two minutes later, ESU's Desiree Wylie hit a 3-pointer that gave the Lady Hornets their first lead of the night, 28-27, but Ingalsbe answered with her own long range basket just 15 seconds later, regaining the lead for FHSU (30-28).
After two free throws from Lehman gave the Tigers a 34-33 lead with 4:03 to go, ESU closed out the opening frame on an 8-3 run to lead, 41-37 at half.
FHSU led by as many as eight in the first half, and though the Tigers shot 50 percent from the field (and 62.5 percent from long range), 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes hurt FHSU's offensive production.
FHSU started the second half with a 10-4 run over the first four minutes, including a 7-0 burst (including four from Lehman) to take a 47-45 lead with 16:00 left in the game.
Down one (50-49) under the 15-minute mark, Lehman's layup at 14:03 started a 9-2 run to propel the Tigers into a six-point lead (58-52) and force a UCO timeout.  Chandler's second 3-pointer of the night came just prior to the timeout.
Lehman's layup at 9:24 put FHSU back ahead by eight (64-56), but ESU went on a 12-0 run to take the lead, 68-64 with just over six minutes remaining.
Another layup from Lehman with 5:56 on the clock stopped the Tigers scoring drought of over three minutes, and an old-fashioned 3-point play soon after put FHSU ahead, 69-68 inside five minutes to play.  That was the start of a 9-3 run that gave FHSU a 75-71 lead with 2:25 to go.  
ESU, though, closed out the final two minutes on a 7-1 run for the win.  With just 3.2 seconds to play, FHSU had a chance to tie, down 80-77, but a last second 3-pointer attempt deflected off the rim.