Fort Hays State 79, NSU (men) 65
It appears as though NSU's win against Nebraska Kearney on Thursday night was the exception and not the rule.
After Saturday afternoon's loss to the Tigers, NSU coach Larry Gipson was on the verge of hitting the reset button.
"We're getting beat badly," said Gipson, whose team has now lost three of its last four games and by an average of 16.3 points per contest. "I think we have to look at everything. I've got to look at everything — from myself on through the team — our game preparation, our determination. We're too careless. We're too loose with the basketball. We turn it over way too much."
With do-it-all Craig Nicholson leading the way, Fort Hays State (14-3, 6-3) won its sixth straight game. Nicholson tallied 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
"I had a meeting with (Fort Hays State) Coach (Mark) Johnson and he really harped on me getting more rebounds, so I really took pride in that and tried to help the team get more rebounds."
Nicholson scored 18 of his points in the second half, when the Tigers took full control of the game. After trailing by eight early in the first half, Fort Hays State rallied to claim a 34-28 lead, which turned into a 15-point advantage with 14:01 left.
The turnaround can be traced back to Fort Hays State switching its defense to a zone.
"When we went to zone, that really helped us," said Nicholson, who was six-of-nine from the floor and 15-of-16 from the free-throw line. "They couldn't hit as many shots as they were when we were in man. They were killing us in man, so we had to go to zone."
Gipson wouldn't argue that statement.
"When they switched to zone then it stymied us," said Gipson, whose team fell to 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the MIAA. "We're small and quick and we move well and we can play off the bounce pretty well. When you go to a zone, it negates movement and your ability to dribble the basketball."
In a game billed for the guard matchup between Nicholson and NSU's Bryton Hobbs, the RiverHawks' 6-foot guard recorded 28 points and eight assists. But the senior from St. Louis turned the ball over five times and went eight-of-20 from the field.
Landon DeMasters was NSU's only other scorer in double figures with 10 points.
The RiverHawks were a measly 19-of-54 (35.2 percent) from the field while only knocking down six of 23 (26.1 percent) of their 3-point attempts.
Fort Hays State finished 27-of-58 from the field and 23-of-26 from the foul line.
After a stretch of five games in 10 days, NSU is now off until Wednesday when it hosts Emporia State. But there will be plenty for the RiverHawks to sort out between now and then.
"We think we've got to play better together," Gipson said. "I think we've got to tighten up; we don't do a lot of little things well."
Women: Northeastern State 49, Fort Hays State 48
FHSU 22 26 - 48
NSU 25 24 - 49
Fort Hays State (12-3, 6-3): Kate Lehman 19, Chelsea Mason 11, Bohuslavsky 6, Chandler 5, Edwards 4, Lunsford 3.
Northeastern State (8-8, 5-4): Chelsey Beathard 16, Kate Bellamy 10, Tate 9, Fox 5, Cowan 5.
Men: Fort Hays State 79, Northeastern State 65
FHSU 34 45 - 79
NSU 28 37 - 65
Fort Hays State (14-3, 6-3): Craig Nicholson 27, Carson Konrade 16, Dwayne Brunson 13, Stoppel 9, Gabric 5, Moikobu 5, Victoria 4.
Northeastern State (11-5, 6-3): Bryton Hobbs 28, Landon DeMasters 10, Sheppard 8, Evans 8, Qualls 6, Littleton 5.