For 20 minutes, the Fort Hays State and Northwest Missouri women’s basketball teams were both playing exceptional offensive basketball, leading to a competitive and entertaining first half on Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The No. 8 Tigers remained at that same level for the entire game, and the Bearcats couldn’t match their explosiveness in the second half.
Fort Hays opened the second half on a 20-0 run to open up a 29-point lead en route to a 91-63 victory, improving to 18-1 overall and 9-1 in the MIAA.
The Tigers shot 52 percent from the field and placed five in double figures, led by Lanie Page’s 20.
“That was about as good as execution as we’ve had for some time,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “We were getting just about what we wanted every time. Our interior game, they had no answer for that. And then we were hitting shots and Lanie was hot today. We just did a good job of getting the ball where it needs to go.”
Northwest (7-11, 3-6 MIAA) hit a barrage of 3-pointers early and finished the half with eight treys to hang around, trailing FHSU 49-40 at the half. But the Bearcats had trouble getting off clean looks after halftime, going just 6 of 22 from the field.
“We weren’t getting out in the lanes and we weren’t getting out on their shooters very well,” Page said of the first half. “The main focus of halftime was anger. But we came out and played really well, and our defense helped our offense, for sure.”
“I don’t think we understood quite how well they shot it,” Hobson said. “We just gave them a little too much space in the first half. They penetrate well enough that we just helped off a little too far. Second half, I think we were a little more determined to not get beat off the dribble. As a result of that, we didn’t have to help as much and we could stay out on the shooters.”
The Tigers opened the second half with a bucket from Belle Barbieri and 3-point play from Tatyana Legette before Page drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and Kacey Kennett followed with another. The run was later capped off by a basket from Legette that extended the lead to 69-40 with 3:12 left third quarter.
“It was really, really fun,” Page said. “I was smiling and yelling and having a lot of fun and I know the crowd loved it, too. The crowd I think helped us get on that little roll and get us going.”
Hobson said Page helps take the Tigers to another level when the junior catches fire offensively like she did Saturday. The Wamego product finished 7 of 13 from the field and 4 of 6 from three.
“It’s like you having a tank and everybody else having small artillery sometimes, unless the tank’s broke down,” Hobson said. “If she’s playing her best like today, she’s hard to stop. … It puts us in another gear because it takes pressure off everybody else, and then all the sudden everybody else is getting easier shots, especially inside.”
Legette scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Kennett and Whitney Randall each had 14 while Barbieri finished with 10.
The Tigers played in front of a season-best attendance of 3,413 fans.
“That was the best crowd we’ve had all year and they get into it,” Hobson said. “Our kids really appreciate that.”
Northwest, which dropped to 7-11 and 3-6 in the MIAA, was led by Kendey Eaton’s 13 points while Kayla Maiava, Erika Schlosser and Mallory McConkey all had 10 points.
The Tigers turned it over just six times and out-rebounded the Bearcats 39-22.
FHSU will start a three-game road swing against Nebraska-Kearney next Saturday.