The Northwest Missouri State men rallied from 16 down to take a second half lead, but gave it up in the final minute of a 64-60 loss to Fort Hays State Wednesday at Bearcat Arena.
Fort Hays State went in front for good with 44 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Lance Russell.
DeAngelo Hailey missed a jumper that would've tied it with 28 seconds to go, and the Tigers knocked down six more free throws in the final 25 seconds.
The final four upped their lead from two to four.
Northwest fell to 15-8 on the season and 8-6 in the MIAA. This was Northwest's season-high third straight loss and dropped the Bearcats two games back of the first place Tigers (16-6, 10-4) and Central Missouri (16-6, 10-4).
With the win, Fort Hays clinched a berth in next month's MIAA Tournament.
A feverish second half comeback saw the Bearcats erase what was a 16 point deficit at one time and a 35-21 Fort Hays State lead at the intermission.
After shooting a disappointing 30 percent from the field in the first half, Northwest turned the tables to shoot 48 percent in the second half. The Bearcats used a 13-4 run late in the second half to take their first lead of the night with 2:15 left in the game.
A deep three-pointer from Alex Sullivan put Northwest ahead 53-51, however the Tigers would answer on their next possession with a three-pointer of their own to regain the lead. Sullivan hit three, three-pointers and finished with nine points.
Both teams would trade baskets, when DeAngelo Hailey drove to the basket drawing a FHSU foul. Hailey hit one of two free-throws to tie the game at 56-56 with just 46 seconds left in the game.
Northwest was forced to foul as the Tigers finished a perfect 8-for-8 in the final minute from the free-throw line to seal the win. On the night FHSU missed just one free-throw going 13-of-14 from the line while the Bearcats shot 76 percent going 16-of-21.
Dillon Starzl returned to the court after missing last week due to injury leading the Bearcats with 16 points.
Russell led Hays with a game-high 22 points. Teammate Craig Nicholson finished with 21 points as the duo combined for six of the Tigers' seven three-pointers.
The Bearcats host No. 25 Washburn Saturday at 3:30 p.m.