CLAREMORE – The Rogers State men’s basketball team picked up a key win in MIAA play Thursday night, defeating Fort Hays State 69-66 at the Claremore Expo Center.
Senior Darraja Parnell led all scorers with 22 points, including a layup and a free throw on a three-point play with 4.1 seconds remaining to put the Hillcats (8-9, 8-9 MIAA) in front for good. Two other Hillcats finished in double figures in the win over the Tigers (8-9, 8-9 MIAA).
Sophomore Jett Sternberger got the scoring going for the Hillcats with a two-point jumper at the 19:02 mark in the first quarter, which sparked an early 6-to-2 run for the Hillcats.
The two teams would go back and forth with the lead until a layup from Sophomore Destin Eke at the 10:49 mark in the first half gave Rogers State a lead it held for the remainder of the half. The Hillcats went into the locker was 33-28 advantage over the Tigers.
The two teams continued to trade baskets to start the second half. The Tigers regained the lead after a layup from Jared Vitztum at the 10:12 mark. From there on, there were 10 different lead changes, and the game was tied a total of five times and neither team leading by more than three points.
After Devin Pullum would give the Hillcats the lead with a three pointer with 58 seconds left, Fort Hays tied the game at 65 with 15 seconds left.
Parnell would then score the go-ahead layup and ensuing free throw to put the Hillcats up 68-65 with 4.1 seconds left on the clock. The Hillcats would hang on to defeat the Tigers by a final score of 69-66.
Rogers State forced 15 turnovers from Fort Hays State, while the Hillcats had just four turnovers. Rogers State used fast-break opportunities outscored Fort Hays State 13-1.
Rogers State shot 19-for-26 (73.1 percent) from the free-throw line from the game, while Fort Hays State shot 6-for-10 (60 percent for the game).
Parnell finished with 22 points, shooting 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. He also had six rebounds, three steals, and a block.
Sternberger finished with 18 points, shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. He also recorded four rebounds and a pair of steals.
Senior Devin Pullum finished with 11 points. He also recorded five rebounds and four assists.
Rogers State moved into a tie with Fort Hays State, just a half game out of the eighth seed spot in the MIAA Standings.
The four turnovers for the Hillcats matched a season low. Rogers State also had just four turnovers against Missouri Southern in late January.
Fort Hays State outrebounded the Hillcats 38-27 in the game, including 14-8 on the offensive glass. However, Fort Hays State only edged Rogers State 15-12 in second-chance points.
Rogers State will remain at the Claremore Expo Center and welcome in Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday for the second of three-straight games at the Expo to close out the home schedule for 2020-21. The Hillcats are set to tip off with the Lopers at 3:30 p.m.