TAHLEQUAH — Kate Bellamy sank two free throws with 3.5 seconds to play, giving Northeastern State a 49-48 upset win over No. 23 Fort Hays State on Saturday.
The RiverHawks (8-8, 5-4 MIAA) earned a league victory against a Tiger squad that entered the contest as the nation’s leader in scoring average at 27.9 points per game. FHSU (12-3, 6-3 MIAA) was also on a four-game win streak, defeating the four opponents by a 30.0 point-per-game average.
The 48 points by the Tigers was the lowest total of the season by 16 points (previous season low was 64). FHSU also shot just 31.5 percent (17-54) from the field, second-worst of the season, and 50 percent (9-for-18) from the free-throw line, worst of the season. The team was 5 of 23 (21.7 percent) from downtown.
Kate Lehman paced the visitors with a game-high 19 points, but she only had seven rebounds. The seven boards marked the first time since the season opener the nation’s third-best rebounder did not reach double digits.
“I thought our kids were attentive to their post game, not only in defending (Lehman), but in getting good help and rotation,” NSU coach Randy Gipson said. “We rebounded well for the most part. We knew points would be hard to come by.
NSU used a 6-0 spurt late in the first half to take a 25-22 lead into halftime. The Tigers found themselves behind at intermission for just the second time this season.The lead reached 10 on an 11-2 run for a 43-33 lead with 8:17 to play.
Fort Hays chipped away though, and a fast-break layup by Taylor Chandler with 21 seconds to play gave the road team a 48-47 advantage.
Ft. Hays 79, NSU 65
NSU(11-5, 6-3) lost for the third time in four outings after a 5-0 start in league play.
Senior guard Bryton Hobbs led all scorers with 28 points. He was only 8-for-20 from the field, but he hit three 3-pointers and made 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. He also added eight assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes. The only other member of the team to reach double figures was junior forward Landon DeMasters, who finished with 10 points.
“I’m not sure what the answer is. Big, physical teams really bother us. Until we get our personnel healed up a little bit, I think they will continue to bother us. We have to do a better job,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said.
Craig Nicholson led FHSU (14-3, 6-3 MIAA) with 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Carson Konrade poured in 16 points and Dwayne Brunson posted 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Both NSU squads play Emporia State on Wednesday.