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FHSU women have work to do

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The Fort Hays State University women's basketball team has won six games in a row and seven of its last eight. The Tigers, ranked in the top 25 earlier in the season, still are receiving votes.

"We finally got some home games, kind of got a little momentum going there," coach Tony Hobson said in his weekly news conference Monday. "I think we have made a better effort to get the ball where it needs to go on the offensive end."

However, FHSU's surge has done virtually nothing in the top-heavy league standings or in the NCAA Division II Central Region rankings.

Fort Hays stands at 18-5, 10-5 MIAA, but is in sixth place in the league. FHSU is is 10th place in the first region rankings released Wednesday.

"We are a little more top-heavy," Hobson said. "I think our top teams are really tough. We've made up maybe one game."

The top eight in each region make the NCAA tournament. Five teams from the MIAA are in the standings.

"We need a few more wins probably to get in there," Hobson said.

"It's a pretty tough conference where you can be 10-5 and be (in) sixth. ... It's a totally different dynamic than the men's side where four losses has you tied for first."

The Tigers have three regular season games left, including an all-important road game Saturday against Washburn University at Lee Arena in Topeka.The Lady Blues stand No. 1 in the region and fifth nationally at 20-3 overall, 14-1 MIAA. Game time is 5 p.m.

Fort Hays blew a late lead and lost 63-60 to Washburn on Jan. 10 in Hays.

Washburn, paced by its usual strong defense and steady play from senior point guard Laura Kinderknecht, has won nine straight. The Lady Blues are 13-0 at home.

"Everything on their team runs through their point guard," Hobson said. "There is really no position more important for closing out late games than a good point guard."

Washburn hasn't allowed more than 60 points since the FHSU game. Kinderknecht ranks fifth in the MIAA at 15.2 points per contest, while Tiger sophomore center Kate Lehman is fourth at 15.4 points a game. Fort Hays has lost nine straight in Topeka dating back to 1994-95.

"I've always said, that it's not necessarily playing on the road or traveling a long ways, it's who you are playing when you get there," Hobson said. "That's why Washburn is a tough trip. It's not that far away. Their arena is fine. It's just who you are playing. They are just a solid team who just does not usually make mistakes down the stretch. You have to beat them. They usually do not lose games."