HAYS – The third-ranked Fort Hays State women’s basketball team used a dominant second half to pull away from Central Missouri Thursday evening, 84-59. The Tigers (12-1, 6-1 MIAA) led by just two at the break before outscoring the Jennies (9-6, 5-3 MIAA) by 15 in the third quarter and by eight in the final frame.
Despite a hot-shooting first half by the visitors, 13 Jennie turnovers allowed the Tigers to take a two-point lead into the locker room, 32-30. Fort Hays State turned those miscues into 15 points off turnovers, helping the Tigers overcome a 57.1 percent first-half shooting effort by UCM (12-of-21).
While Fort Hays State hit just 37.9 percent from the floor before intermission (11-of-29), the Tigers did have success from behind the 3-point line. Whitney Randall and Sydney Golladay were both 2-of-2 from behind the arc in the opening half, while Jaden Hobbs and Megan Earney also added triples for the Tigers in the first two quarters.
The Tigers blew things open out of the locker room thanks to an 18-1 run. While hitting seven of their first eight shots on the offensive end, the Tigers held UCM without a field goal for more than five minutes at the start of the period. FHSU forced five turnovers during that span.
Fort Hays State finished the quarter with 29 points, matching its season high for points in one quarter. The Tigers hit a blistering 11-of-13 from the floor (84.6 percent), including both attempts from behind the arc and a perfect 5-for-5 effort from the free-throw line.
Hobbs hit two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter while Olivia Hollenbeck and Jessie Sallach combined for 12 points in the paint in the frame, helping the Tigers grow their lead to 25 points before the final horn.
Five Tigers scored in double figures for the third time this season, including 16 points, six rebounds, seven steals and five assists from Katie Wagner. The second-year freshman matched her career high in assists while setting a new personal-best for steals.
Hobbs scored 14 points thanks to four 3-pointers while dishing out seven assists and poking away three steals. Hollenbeck also scored 14 points, with Randall and Golladay adding 10 points each.
The Tigers hit a season-high 11 3-pointers while also posting a new season best by hitting 50 percent from behind the arc (11-of-22). FHSU also hit 50 percent from the floor overall (31-of-62), hitting at least half of its shots for the fourth time this season.
Brooke Littrell paced the Jennies with 25 points after hitting 10-of-13 from the floor, with Nija Collier adding 17 points. The rest of the UCM team combined to score 17 points on 29.4 percent shooting. The Jennies hit 51.2 percent from the floor overall (21-of-41).
Fort Hays State poked away 15 steals in the win, the most against a DII opponent this season. The Tigers outrebounded UCM by six, 29-23.
The Tigers continued their dominance over UCM inside Gross Memorial Coliseum, winning their eighth-straight home game against the Jennies and moving to 10-2 all-time.
Fort Hays State will return to the floor Saturday (Jan. 8) when the Tigers host Lincoln in a women’s-only contest beginning at 2 p.m. The men’s game has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Blue Tiger program and will be made up on a date to be determined.