It certainly wasn't a perfect effort, but the Fort Hays State women's basketball team did enough on offense and played stifling defense to knock of Lincoln Thursday evening (Jan. 26), 81-68. The Tigers ended a two-game losing skid, moving to 15-4 overall and 6-4 in the MIAA with the win. Lincoln dips to 3-15 on the year and 2-9 in the league.
The Tigers remain undefeated at home on the year, moving to 10-0 inside Gross Memorial Coliseum. FHSU has now won 25-straight home games, extending the program record.
After falling behind 2-0 on the first shot of the game, Fort Hays State scored 15-straight points over the next six minutes, forcing Lincoln into eight consecutive misses. Emma Stroyan was dominant under the basket early, scoring seven of the first eight FHSU points. The Tigers led by double digits for all but 18 seconds for the rest of the game. FHSU closed the first quarter with a 5-0 run, leading 22-8 after 10 minutes of play. The Blue Tigers made eight turnovers in the quarter, equaling their point total in the frame.
The Blue Tigers stormed back to open the second quarter, outscoring Fort Hays State 10-2 over the first four-plus minutes of the period. Kacey Kennett dropped in a layup off a pass from Taylor Chandler to stop the bleeding, opening up a 10-0 run for the Tigers. Kennett drilled a trey two possessions later, with the other five points in the run coming from Tatyana Legette. The Tigers stretched their halftime lead to 17 after Chandler made a steal with less than 10 seconds to go. Sarah Pimentel dropped in a layup to beat the buzzer after grabbing an offensive rebound, giving the home team a 40-23 advantage at the break.
Fort Hays State had an answer to every Lincoln bucket in the third quarter, never letting the lead dip below 14. A three-pointer from Nikola Kacperska with 2:50 left in the frame put the Tigers in front by 21, 59-38, their largest lead of the day.
The Blue Tigers tried to mount a comeback over the final 10 minutes, but the FHSU advantage was too much to overcome. Lincoln posted its best shooting quarter in the final frame, sinking 52.9 percent (9-of-17), but six Blue Tiger turnovers limited the damage. FHSU hit 9-of-13 free throws in the final quarter to keep the storming Blue Tigers at bay.
The teams combined for 38 turnovers in the contest. Each side made nine steals, with Lincoln making 20 turnovers to FHSU's 18. The teams were even on the boards, with the Tigers holding a slim 48-45 edge. Shooting was fairly balanced as well, with the Tigers hitting 41 percent of their shots (25-of-61) and the Blue Tigers sinking 37.7 percent (26-of-69). The big difference in the game came at the charity stripe, where FHSU attempted 39 free throws to 17 for the visitors.
Legette led the Tigers with 15 points, finishing one rebound shy of a double-double. Stroyan added 12 points and seven rebounds, with Carly Heim also dropping in 12 points to go along with a pair of assists. Madison Mittie made a career-high three blocks in the game to lead the Tigers.
Lincoln's Erica Gibbons dropped in 7-of-10 from the field to lead all scorers with 17 points. Hunter Yoakum (15 pts) and Khadijah Ellison (14 pts) also reached double figures for the Blue Tigers.
The Tigers look to maintain their home winning streak Saturday afternoon (Jan. 28) when Lindenwood comes to town. First tip with the Lady Lions is set for 2 p.m.