Bothered by a nagging thumb injury, Lanie Page hadn’t seen a whole lot recently to suggest the issue would soon become a non-factor for the Fort Hays State junior guard.
“The other night I was pretty frustrated about it,” Page said. “Practice has been kind of iffy, my shooting.”
You wouldn’t know it by watching Page on Monday night against Rockhurst.
The Wamego product had a near-flawless shooting night in the No. 6-ranked Tigers’ 89-55 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Page went for a career-high 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting as the Tigers matched their best start in program history at 10-0. She was 3 of 3 from 3-point range and 6 of 6 from the foul line.
“I’m not really sure what happened between practice yesterday and the game today, but it worked out in my favor, I guess,” Page said.
After three straight single-digit games, Page scored 15 in the first half including a nine-point second quarter.
“She gets in a little flow, and I haven’t really seen that lately because of her thumb injury,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “When she catches it, it’s a little painful. But as far as her shot, it doesn’t affect it that much.
“She’s really good at the one-dribble pull-up, going to the baseline. That kind of got her into a rhythm. … Lanie got good shots, good looks. She didn’t really force anything. The times she got to the basket and didn’t score, she got fouled. She’s a very heady offensive player.”
The Tigers had no trouble attacking the zone Rockhurst opened the game in, burning the Hawks inside and out.
“We hadn’t prepared for them to play any zone; they just don’t play much zone,” Hobson said. “But we’ve played against it so much already it just wasn’t a big deal. … We did an excellent job once we hit a few threes of loosening it up.”
Fort Hays gained control from the start, building a 24-10 lead by the end of the first quarter, which was capped a buzzer beater from Madison Mittie.
The Tigers extended the lead to 46-28 by halftime and led 73-41 at the end of third frame, which also ended with a buzzer-beater on a 3-pointer from Taylor Rolfs.
Belle Barbieri contributed 11 points and seven rebounds while Whitney Randall scored 10 off the bench for the Tigers, who had 12 different players enter the scoring column.
FHSU finished 27 of 60 from the floor and 9 of 22 from 3-point range.
“I think in a zone you have to move the ball really, really well and pass fake to get open shots, so that’s what we were trying to do,” said Page, who eclipsed her previous career high of 21 set last year against Lindenwood. “We were getting inside. Our posts were able to make moves and they were also able to kick it out to open shooters. We all worked really well together on that.”
The Tigers also cashed in at the free throw line by knocking down 26 of 32 attempts.
“It seems to be such a momentum thing,” Hobson said of the Tigers’ good night from the line. “I don’t know how free throw shooting can transfer from one person to the next, but it’s just like people are more relaxed and when you start making them, everybody makes them.”
Rockhurst (4-5) was led by Madeline Ronshausen’s 14 points. The Hawks went 21 of 47 from the field and committed 23 turnovers while Fort Hays turned it over just six times.
This year marks the third time the Tigers have started the season with 10 straight wins. They also accomplished it in the 2015-16 and 2012-13 seasons.
Fort Hays won’t return to action until Dec. 30 when the Tigers face Bethany at home.
“We were a little disappointed in how we played against Tabor last game,” Page said of FHSU’s 85-51 win this past Friday. “I think it was really good that we came out strong. We made it a point that we needed to come out strong against this team because Rockhurst is a good team.
“I think it was huge that we came out and played really well and we can all go home for nine days with a smile on our face.”