HAYS, Kan. – After trailing by 14 at halftime, Fort Hays State made a second-half surge against defending national champion and No. 2 ranked Northwest Missouri State. However, the rally came up short as the Bearcats pulled back away in the late going and won by a score of 74-60 in Hays. Northwest Missouri State improved to 14-1 overall, 7-0 in the MIAA, while FHSU is now 11-3 overall, 6-3 in the MIAA.
The Bearcats never trailed from start to finish. FHSU tied the game three times in the early minutes of the contest, but Northwest Missouri State went on a 25-9 run over a span of about eight minutes to build a 16-point lead. NWMSU led 40-26 at the break.
The Bearcats extended their lead to 17 three times in the early portion of the second half, but then the Tigers turned up their defense and held the Bearcats scoreless for seven and a half minutes from the 16:30 to 9:00 marks of the second half. During that lockdown, the Tigers went on a 13-0 run to get the Bearcat lead down to four. The Tigers had a possession to draw even closer, but after a missed shot the Bearcats countered with a quick 7-0 burst to take their lead back up to 11 with 7:27 to play. The Tigers never pulled closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Wes Dreamer was a thorn in Fort Hays State's side throughout the evening as he hit five 3-point field goals and scored the first five points of that quick 7-0 run to snap the Bearcat drought. Dreamer went on to finish with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Trevor Hudgins, the Division II National Player of the Year 2020-21, finished with 19 points as well, though he struggled mightily beyond the 3-point line (1-of-10). He made up for that with a 6-of-6 effort at the free-throw line and now owns the MIAA record for consecutive free throws made with 41. He is 67-of-71 at the line on the season. Daniel Abreu gave the Bearcats three scorers in double figures with 16. The Bearcats shot a strong 51.2 percent overall from the field and 90.9 percent (20-of-22) at the free-throw line.
Nyjee Wright led the Tigers with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. He was a perfect 4-of-4 beyond the 3-point line. Jared Vitztum added 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Elijah Nnanabu provided a nice spark off the bench for the Tigers with 11 points. The trio scored 45 of Fort Hays State's 60 points in the game.
Fort Hays State will look to bounce back when it heads on the road Saturday (Jan. 15) to Missouri Western. The game is set to start at 3:30 pm, which follows the women's contest at 1:30 pm.