WICHITA — After battling foul woes from almost the jump, the Fort Hays State men's basketball team was on the verge of surviving a back-and-forth road battle with Newman after clutch buckets from Aaron Nicholson and Brady Werth.
But the final seconds summed up the game, with Newman’s Marshawn Blackmon getting fouled with 4.5 seconds and hitting two free throws to send the Jets to a 76-75 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday at Fugate Gymnasium.
Werth and FHSU point guard Kyler Kinnamon each fouled out in the final minute and two other Tigers finished with four fouls as Newman attempted 30 free throws, making 19.
Nicholson hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put FHSU up by two with 1:13 left, but Kinnamon fouled out on the other end and Newman hit one of two free throws with 55 seconds left to come within a point.
A Marcus Cooper free throw put the Tigers back up by two with 40 seconds left before Newman’s Julian Davenport delivered a 3 with 28 seconds left to put the Jets up by a point.
Werth then came up with another go-ahead basket with 13.4 seconds left, but FHSU couldn't get a stop without fouling. Blackmon got it inside, forcing a Werth foul, and proceeded to knock down both attempts before a desperation heave from just inside half court by Nicholson clanked away as time expired.
“We did a poor job at the (front of the zone) there,” Tigers’ coach Mark Johnson said of Fort Hays’ last defensive possession. “It’s a one-point game. It doesn’t matter if they make a two or three. Make them at least make a jump shot. Don’t let them just go to the foul line and win it. Our top two guards got a little extended and they threw it to the guy we didn’t want them to. Brady made the right call by fouling him, and give the kid credit for stepping up late in the game and making two big free throws.”
The game featured 18 lead changes and eight ties.
“I thought we really competed for the most part,” Johnson said. “First half we really competed, guarded well. Second half, I thought we were still playing hard; we didn’t guard quite as well. They were shooting too high of a percentage (61 in the second half) and got to the foul line. That was the difference in the game — our 17 turnovers and them getting to the foul line.”
FHSU (2-3) led 34-28 at halftime and opened up a nine-point cushion right away in the second half on a 3-pointer from Jared Vitztum, but Newman answered with a quick 11-0 run to take the lead.
“We take it from six to nine and then we just come right down and have three straight turnovers,” Johnson said. “It just killed the momentum.”
Cooper led the Tigers with 16 while Nicholson chipped in 14, and Kinnamon and Werth added 13 and 11, respectively. Werth was limited to just 17 minutes after picking up two fouls in the first six minutes.
“Our guys were really locked in and really wanted to win this game and really tried,” Johnson said. “Unfortunate that we came up just a little short.”
Blackmon led five players in double figures for the Jets with 19.
The Tigers will play Sterling at 5 p.m. Saturday in Gross Memorial Coliseum to begin a six-game homestand.