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Tiger women fall apart, lose in 2OT at Truman

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. -- Tiger coach Tony Hobson and seniors Kelsie Sorenson and Kaiameka Brown agree: The Fort Hays State University women's basketball team struggles mightily in late-game situations.

Fixing the problem will take improvement in multiple areas.

On Saturday, Fort Hays lost multiple late leads and eventually fell, 57-55, in double overtime at Truman State (Mo.) University's Pershing Arena. It was FHSU's first double-overtime contest since an 81-80 loss to Chadron State (Neb.) College in the 1994-95 season finale.

"We definitely had our chances and that's kind of a recurring theme, but I thought we had more of them tonight than normal," Hobson said.

The Tigers dropped to 12-5, 4-5 MIAA and went 1-1 on a four-day, two-city trip that covered more than 1,000 miles. After a 10-0 start, FHSU has lost five of its last seven.

"It's on ourself, especially the seniors," Sorenson said. "We need to step up, and we are not. It's on us. It's on me. That's about all we can do is step up. If we step up, then others will follow."

Truman State improved to 15-3, 8-2 in its last season of MIAA play before it switches to the Great Lakes Valley Conference next year. Both teams were receiving votes nationally.

The Bulldogs remained undefeated at home, while FHSU dropped to 1-5 versus the league's top six teams. FHSU dropped to 0-3 in contests decided by three points or fewer. In four of the defeats, Fort Hays led in the second half.

"We need to learn how to play a whole 40 minutes and get the win, because we can beat most of the teams that we have been losing to," Brown said.

"It's frustrating when this happens over and over again at the end of the game," Sorenson added.

On Saturday, Fort Hays limited Truman State, the nation's top-3 point shooting team, to 4 of 16 from beyond the arc and just 43 points in regulation. Sophomore Keriann Shaw entered the starting lineup for the first time this year in place of senior guard Melissa Nelson, who injured her knee Thursday. Nelson is expected to have the knee looked at Monday for the long term diagnosis.

For the game, the Bulldogs shot 34 percent from the field. But Truman State held a plus-six edge on the glass and FHSU allowed Bulldog junior Amy Briggs and sophomore Allie Norton to have open looks several times late. Norton led the Bulldogs with 13 points and Briggs added 10 off the bench.

"That's when the leadership needs to step up," Sorenson said. "Instead of getting tight like we got out there and on our heels, we need someone to step up and be confident and empower the other girls on the team, so that we are confident and relaxed at the end of the game."

Briggs and Norton combine for 21 points per game and both players shoot at least 42 percent from beyond the arc.

"We played well all throughout the game, but as soon as the clock gets low, we have mental lapses, and they found open shots," Brown said.

Fort Hays used a 10-3 run to take a 41-34 lead with 3:28 left in regulation. But the Bulldogs pressed and FHSU had trouble scoring the rest of the game. Sophomore center Kate Lehman missed two free throws and junior Katelyn Edwards (team-high 12 points) traveled with 73 seconds left.

"That kind of mixed us up a little bit," Brown said. "We couldn't just go down and run our offense like we have been doing the whole game."

FHSU had a chance to extend the lead to four points, but Brown missed a jumper inside with 52 seconds left following a Bulldog turnover.

Truman State tied the game with 17.9 seconds left in regulation when senior Jennifer Conway grabbed an offensive rebound, collected a foul and made both free throws.

"We have to make to that next shot, or we have to make our free throws, or we have to not give an offensive rebound," Hobson said. "It's just detail stuff, that we start thinking about something else like, 'We are not going to lose this game,' instead of just concentrating on the next play in front of you.

"That's what you need to do to be a clutch player," he added. "You can't think about anything, except what is happening that exact moment, and I think we are struggling with that. Things are going through our head that shouldn't be."

In the first overtime, FHSU led 48-45 with 65 seconds remaining, but Norton tied the game on a trey. Edwards followed with a basket, but Truman tied the game again on a Norton jumper.

In the second overtime, Truman took an early 55-52 lead when Briggs hit a wide-open 3 in the right corner. Fort Hays never led again.

The Tigers had an opportunity late to tie or win the game when freshman guard Beth Bohuslavsky stole the ball from Norton with 6.6 seconds left. Senior Traci Keyser's guarded jumper at the buzzer missed - and FHSU suffered another disappointing late loss.