HAYS -- Fort Hays State Men's Basketball continued its upward climb in the MIAA standings on Saturday with an 81-73 win over Central Oklahoma at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
It was the fourth straight win for the Tigers, now 11-11 overall and 4-9 in the MIAA, while completing the perfect four-game home stand. FHSU jumped all the way up into a tie for 10th in the MIAA standings with the win.
Neither team led by more than six points in the first half with the lead changing hands five times along with 10 ties. By halftime, FHSU was on the positive side of the tight game with a 41-38 lead.
A 13-4 run by the Tigers over the first five minutes of the second half pushed their lead to 12. UCO then went on a 7-0 burst to trim the lead back to five. To continue the see-saw pattern, FHSU an 11-2 burst immediately following to grow the lead to 14 with 10:36 to play. Eventually the lead reached 16 three times, the latest at the 4:10 mark, before UCO slowly began to chip away with full-court pressure.
Central Oklahoma went on an 11-1 run between the 4:10 and 1:37 marks on the clock, making the margin an uncomfortable six points late. However, UCO would not hit a shot the rest of the way as the Tigers tacked on two points in the final 1:15 of the game and held on for the eight-point win.
Jared Vitztum had a career-high 22 points on a near-perfect shooting night for the Tigers. He was perfect from the field, 6-of-6 overall and 4-of-4 beyond the 3-point line, but missed just one free throw going 6-of-7. He also had a team-high eight rebounds. Alvin Thompson led the Tigers off the bench with 16 points, going a perfect 3-of-3 beyond the 3-point line. Aaron Nicholson added 14 points and a career-high seven assists, while Nyjee Wright had 13 points. The Tigers shot a blistering 59.5 percent overall, including 57.1 percent beyond the 3-point line.
Justin Nimmer led the UCO scoring effort with 20 points, while Dashon Bell was right behind with 18. Camryn Givens added 10.
Fort Hays State goes on the road next week to battle Central Missouri (Thur.) and Lincoln (Sat.) in a pair of crucial contests for positioning in the standings. Central Missouri is tied with the Tigers at 4-9 in the MIAA, while Lincoln is one game in front at 5-8.