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Guards providing jolt for Tiger women

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Last season, the Fort Hays State University women's basketball team had two point guards. Senior Crista Bechard started and earned back-to-back all-MIAA honorable mention honors. She committed few mistakes and was one of the country's leaders in assist/turnover ratio on a 20-9 squad. Kaiameka Brown, a quick player able to get her own shot off against virtually any defense, was the second option.

A year later, Brown starts and freshman Beth Bohuslavsky, similar to Bechard, has seen plenty of playing time at the point.

"Kai is a good, explosive player, but Beth, it's kind of like our slider and changeup when she is in," Hobson said.

Bohuslavsky delivered another solid game in a 64-55 home victory against Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University on Wednesday night. She and sophomore Keriann Shaw provided immediate jolts when they came into the game as the Tigers' first subs.

"I thought we got a great lift from those two," Hobson said.

Bohuslavsky finished with four points, one assist and three steals in 24 minutes; Brown was 2-of-10 shooting for six points in 20 minutes.

"We both can get the job done," Bohuslavsky said.

Last season, Bechard averaged eight points, 2.5 assists, a 2.10 assist/turnover ratio and just .044 turnovers per minute played. She shot 41 percent from the field and 36 percent from the 3-point line.

Bohuslavsky has played 18.5 minutes a game and collected 4.2 points, 2.1 assists, a 1.53 assist/turnover ratio and committed .073 turnovers per minute played. She doesn't shoot frequently, but has shot 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.

"I think that is a very good comparison," Hobson said. "Really, it's pretty close, Beth now and Crista as a senior and that doesn't mean that Crista wasn't really good. She was. I think Crista was a little stronger by the time she was a senior than Beth is now, but I see a lot of characteristics that I loved in Crista with Beth: smart, knows the situation."

On Saturday, Fort Hays, ranked No. 21 in NCAA Division II at 11-3, 3-3 MIAA, will travel to Pittsburg State University, ranked No. 24 at 11-4, 5-2 MIAA. Against SBU, Fort Hays played very well in the first half, then the Bearcats made a big comeback after the break.

"I don't want to play a half," Hobson said. "I don't want to play not at all. I want to play two good halves, and I just really feel confident that if this team plays well for two halves, I think we will win. ... I just try to get our team to play well and then feel confident that if we have got good enough players that if that happens, we will win."

PSU reached the Division II Elite Eight last season behind then-MIAA freshman of the year Lizzy Jeronimus. This season, Jeronimus leads the conference in scoring at 19.5 points per contest. FHSU sophomore center Kate Lehman stands second at 16.6 points per game.

"We need to win, because it's going to help replace the losses that we shouldn't have lost, but we just need to go down there with the same mentality we started, and hopefully come out with a W," Bohuslavsky said.

Bohuslavsky, from Seward High School in Dwight, Neb., went 101-0 in her high school career and averaged 12.5 points and six assists a contest her senior year. Bohuslavsky's years of basketball have helped her develop a Bechard-esque game.

"It just comes from keep playing and keep practicing, keep getting better," she said. "I guess you've got to credit the coaches for giving me that spark and for telling me what to do. I am able to respond to that, too."

Throughout the season, Bohuslavsky has continually delivered the line. She has never scored in double figures, but has scored in all but one contest. Since Nov. 14, her shooting percentage in any game has dipped below 33 percent just once, and that occurred Wednesday.

"My role is not really to shoot every time I get the ball," she said. "I am a more of a creator, so if my shot is there, I am certainly going to take it. If it goes in, it goes in. If not, I have got to rely on my teammates to rebound the ball."

Only once - on Nov. 23 - has she committed more than two turnovers in a contest. In MIAA play, she has averaged four points a game with a 6/7 assist/turnover ratio and 44 percent shooting. Brown has averaged five points a contest with a 16/10 assist/turnover ratio and 23 percent shooting.

"You turn over the ball, you waste a possession," Bohuslavsky said. "Some of those possessions are key. We need to get a two here and there. Also, it gets the other team a little more upbeat, too. We have got to focus on not turning the ball over."