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Jennies pull away from Tiger women

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- A massive rebounding disparity, one of the worst in Tony Hobson's six seasons. No 3-pointers in the first 27 minutes. A drop from the Tigers' usual effort and intensity. Problems with help side defense. Just 22 points outside of junior center Kate Lehman and senior Katelyn Edwards.

The Fort Hays State University women's basketball team had multiple problems, allowed a 21-4 run that spanned both halves and lost 71-52 at the University of Central Missouri on Thursday in the MIAA opener. It marked FHSU's worst defeat since a 29-point loss at Washburn University on Dec. 8, 2010.

"I could have done a lot of stuff differently, and our whole team could have," Lehman, who led the Tigers with 16 points and 11 rebounds, said.

Fort Hays lost the rebounding battle, 52-34, and had just nine second chance points, 19 fewer than Central Missouri. The Jennies, ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division II, moved to 7-1, 1-0 MIAA. Fort Hays dropped to 5-1, 0-1 MIAA. Fort Hays completes the two-city, three-day swing with a road game at Missouri Western State University on Saturday. Start time is 1:30 p.m.

"We didn't have edge that we usually play with, for whatever reason," Hobson said. "You can't explain that really."

Last year, Fort Hays opened the conference season with a 34-1 run en route to a 45-point home victory against Central Missouri in Hays. A winter later, coach Dave Slifer, 176-98 in 10 years at UCM, calls the 2013-14 team his most talented squad. Senior forward Keuna Flax, a returning honorable mention All-American, collected 18 points and 12 rebounds, both game-bests, and helped the Jennies win their 18th straight home contest.

"She is as good of a player as I have seen in Division II in awhile," Slifer said.

The Jennies were ranked fifth nationally, but lost 96-67 at Harding (Ark.) University on Nov. 29.

In film study, Slifer watched an FHSU team he called "unstoppable" average 96 points per contest and score often in transition. Fort Hays had won each contest by at least 28 points, but had just one road game. Central Missouri was 3-1 in road/neutral contests. UCM contained FHSU in transition and didn't allow second-chance points. Slifer said it was "by far" the best his team had played in those two areas.

"We were a little concerned, but we knew we had played a lot of good teams so far," Slifer said. "Even though it wasn't any fun to go to Harding and get beat -- and we got whipped there - I think we learned a lesson. I wanted to learn that lesson out of conference this year instead of in conference like we learned it last year."

By the 13:21 mark of the first half, three Central Missouri starters had two fouls.

Fort Hays trailed 21-20 with 6 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first half, but the Jennies opened the deficit to 42-24 with 16:06 remaining.

"I don't know if we got tired or just lost our edge," Lehman said. "I don't really know what happened, but we definitely had a drop. Being on the road, being in the hotel all day, it's not an excuse, but it's definitely a factor."

Down low, FHSU was supposed to double team on Flax when the pass came; she led the MIAA with 19.7 points last season and averages 20 this year. Instead, the Tigers were continually late. Central Missouri converted second-chance opportunities when the Tigers had help side defense troubles, and had multiple open looks off backside rebounds. FHSU had its worst rebounding margin since a minus-19 performance in a 65-53 loss at Truman State (Mo.) University on Feb. 10, 2011.

"It was hard to rebound, too, because if they would miss, our backside, there's no one there," Lehman said.

The squads combined for 4 of 24 from 3-point range for the game and 0 of 10 in the first half. FHSU's first trey came from sophomore Paige Lunsford at the 12:39 mark.

"I just didn't like our effort," Hobson said. "I didn't think it was just very good. We had a couple kids that I just didn't get much out of, and we have to have it from them. Hopefully that will change on Saturday."

Edwards finished with 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting, while Lehman was 5 of 12 from the field. In the first half, Hobson felt both players missed a couple of short shots.

The rest of the team went 6 of 32 from the field, including 2 of 12 from senior Tera Ingalsbe, usually an efficient shooter. Sophomore guards Taylor Chandler, Beth Bohuslavsky and Taylor Chandler went 3 of 14.

"We usually shoot the ball pretty decently," Hobson said. "It wasn't just one person that was off. It wasn't just two. It seemed like there was five or six of them. ... It was just one of those things that happens sometimes, and you hope that it happens against some other team."

Some of the problems came from the massive Multipurpose Building that can sit 8,500 fans and looks like a warehouse. Unlike many gyms, there's no wall or seating behind the bleachers. Just three players, Lehman, Edwards and junior Keriann Shaw, had ever played at UCM. FHSU had multiple bad misses, including several shots that didn't hit the rim and/or air balled.

"It's a different background than usual," Lehman said. "I know that Chelsea missed a few that she would usually nail, and it has to do with it not being a back to the gym."

Central Missouri 72, Fort Hays 51

FHSU (5-1, 0-1 MIAA)

Kate Lehman 5-12 0-0 6-12 16, Chandler 0-4 2-2 2, Bohuslavsky 1-5 2-2 4, Mason 2-5 0-0 6, Katelyn Edwards 5-13 3-5 13, Kacperska 0-2 0-0 0, Faxon 0-2 0-0 0, Shaw 0-1 1-3 1, Lunsford 1-1 0-0 3, Ingalsbe 2-12 2-2 6. Totals - 16-57 16-26 51.

UCM (7-1, 1-0 MIAA)

Keuna Flax 5-12 8-10 18, Revonnia Howard 7-13 0-0 14, Lewis 4-9 1-3 9, Shelby Winkelmann 4-11 5-6 14, Wattley 3-10 0-0 6, Wahlert 0-0 1-2 1, Prairie Chief 1-2 2-4 4, Orton 1-1 0-0 2, Rodenberg 0-0 0-0 0, Embray 0-1 0-0 0, Kelly 0-1 0-0 0, Barry 2-5 0-0 4. Totals - 27-65 17-25 72.

FHSU 22 29 - 51

UCM 32 40 - 72

3-point goals - FHSU 3-16 (Chandler 0-4, Bohuslavsky 0-3, Mason 2-5, Lunsford 1-1, Ingalsbe 0-3); UCM 1-8 (Flax 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Winkelmann 1-4, Wattley 0-2). Fouls - FHSU 23, UCM 22. Technical fouls - none. Fouled out - Mason, FHSU; Barry, UCM.

Rebounds - FHSU 34 (Lehman 11); UCM 52 (Flax 12); Assists - FHSU 10 (three with 2); UCM 8 (three with 2); Steals - FHSU 8 (Shaw 3); UCM 2 (Prairie Chief 2). Blocks - FHSU 2 (Lehman, Ingalsbe 1); UCM 2 (Flax 2). Turnovers - FHSU 12, UCM 13. A - 705.