HAYS — Pittsburg State men's basketball had hopes of starting off 2016 on a high note. Unfortunately, they lost their sixth game in a row as the they went on the road and fell 89-78 to Fort Hays State Saturday at the Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Gorillas (10-3, 4-3 MIAA) went back and forth with the Tigers (10-2, 8-2 MIAA) in the early goings before FHS went on a run to lead by nine points at the half. Fort Hays built their advantage to 15 through the first five minutes of the second half, but a Gorilla rally got PSU within single digits near the midway mark. FHS stopped the PSU comeback dead in its tracks and pushed ahead for the double-digit win.
While the Gorillas have dropped six games in a row, the Tigers, transversely, have won five consecutive contests.
The Gorillas had three players finish in double figures, with Trey Starks coming off the bench to finish with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Point guard Javis Flynn finished the game with 19 points, making 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. He led the team in assists with 7, rebounds with five and steals with five.
Josiah Gustafson had 17 points in the loss. He made three of his nine attempts from 3-point range and added three steals and two rebounds.
Fort Hays State had a total if five players reaching double-digit scoring totals.
They were led by Jake Stoppel, who had 24 points in the win. He was 10 of 16 from the floor with seven rebounds and three assists.
Rob Davis finished with 14 points and three steals, while Craig Nicholson had 12 points, a team-high nine assists, four rebounds a steal.
Trey O'Neil and Hadley Gillum each scored 10 points in the FHS win.
After trailing for majority of the game, the Gorillas showed the fight midway through the second half which made them so good early in the season to get themselves in position to win the game against the Tigers.
A 17-6 run by PSU ending at the 10:26 mark put the Gorillas within four points of the lead, 59-55.
Unfortunately, Fort Hays State answered a 9-2 spurt of their own to push the lead back to double digits.
Trevor Gregory started the offensive output with a three-point play before Javis Flynn scored on the inside to cut the FHS lead to 10, 53-43.
Gustafson ripped a 3-pointer to get PSU within single digits, and moments later Trey Starks hit a triple of his own to make the score 59-54 with 12:15 remaining.
Starks knocked down a second 3-pointer to close the run and trim the Tiger lead to four points, 65-73.
Hays answered with six consecutive points on a layup from O'Neil, which was followed by back-to-back jumpers from Stoppel and Nicholson to push the lead to 14.
The lead remained large until the Gorillas got back within single digits with less than three minutes to play on four straight points from Flynn via a pair of free throws and a score in the paint.
There wasn't enough time for the Pitt State men to do much more damage, as the Gorillas ultimately fell by 11.
The Gorilla men look to snap their losing streak Monday following the women's game when they square off in a road matchup with Nebraska-Kearney.
Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter at @LDsportswriter.