Tiger women see winning streak end
By CONOR NICHOLL
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Fort Hays State University junior center Kate Lehman paused at a doorway outside the Tiger locker room and wiped away tears. Lehman, who calls herself "a pretty calm person," let her emotions flow after a difficult 49-48 last-second loss to Northeastern (Okla.) State University.
"When we lose games like this, it's hard," Lehman said.
FHSU trailed by eight with 4 minutes, 18 seconds left, but mounted a furious comeback and led by one after a steal and layup by sophomore Taylor Chandler with 21 seconds remaining.
The Tigers played strong defense on NSU's final possession. RiverHawk sophomore Kate Bellamy was on the right side about 18 feet from the basket and wasn't shooting when Lehman committed what she said was a questionable foul with 3.5 seconds left.
"Not in my opinion, but I don't make the calls," Lehman said.
Bellamy -- who had turned the ball over for Chandler's steal -- made both free throws for the final points. Tiger sophomore guard Beth Bohuslavsky's buzzer-beating trey bounced off the rim.
"There was a bit of contact," Bellamy said. "There wasn't a lot. It could have gone either way. But there was definitely a little bit."
Fort Hays, ranked No. 23 in NCAA Division II, saw its four-game winning streak end, and dropped to 12-3, 6-3 MIAA. Northeastern State improved to 8-8, 5-4 MIAA.
"It's one that we felt like we should win, and we needed to win to keep things rolling," Tiger coach Tony Hobson said. "You make a good comeback on them and have a good chance to win the game, and then you get a call like that at the end that's just ridiculous. It's just a tough way to lose a game."
FHSU dropped to 4-3 on the road, 3-3 in MIAA road games. However, the Tigers' first two losses came at No. 8 University of Central Missouri and against Missouri Southern State University, receiving votes nationally. The Tigers had received strong bench play this season, but the reserves finished 1 of 14 for three points and seven rebounds.
"This is not a game we could lose for rankings, for conference - we could not lose," Lehman said, trying to hold back tears. "But we did it, and I felt like some girls did not realize how much that we had on the line to play for. They are young. They don't know, but they also didn't respond when we tried to tell them how much there was on the line."
Lehman led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points and also pulled down seven rebounds with three blocks. Senior Katelyn Edwards scored just four points and fouled out with 4:19 left. The Tigers shot 9 of 18 from the foul line and 32 percent for the contest.
"It's not their fault," Lehman said. "I missed 10 layups and a bunch of free throws, and it would have been a whole different game if I hadn't.
"Kate fouled out, and it would have been a whole different game if she hadn't," Lehman added. "If we had some calls that went our way, it would have been a whole different game, but we controlled what we did, and we didn't do enough."
FHSU averaged 75.8 possessions per game, while Northeastern was at 66.9 possessions per contest. The RiverHawks slowed the game down and scored several times late in the shot clock, especially in the first half. The game had just 60 possessions. Northeastern State led 25-22 at halftime and was up 10 with 8:17 remaining. Junior Chelsey Beathard paced the RiverHawks with 16 points. NSU continually double and triple-teamed Lehman when she had the ball.
"Up until the final few minutes, the game really went exactly the way we hoped it would," RiverHawks coach Randy Gipson said.
Down 47-46, Chandler stole the ball from Bellamy around the 3-point line and scored a layup for the lead. NSU never had a good shot attempt, but Lehman's foul and Bellamy's shooting led to a frustrating loss.
"It hurts when you think that you should win a game and you can't pull it out," Hobson said.
Northeastern State 49, Fort Hays 48
FORT HAYS (12-3, 6-3)
Kate Lehman 6-12 7-11 19, Chelsea Mason 4-13 0-0 11, Bohuslavsky 2-4 1-2 6, Chandler 2-5 1-2 2, Chandler 2-5 1-2 5, Edwards 2-6 0-0 4, Lunsford 1-4 0-3 3, Faxon 0-4 0-0 0, Ingalsbe 0-5 0-0 0, Kacperska 0-1 0-0 0, Shaw 0-10 0-0 0. Totals -- 17-54 9-18 48 .
NORTHEASTERN STATE (8-8, 5-4)
Chelsey Beathard 6-9 0-0 16, Kate Bellamy 3-6 3-3 10, Tate 3-6 3-4 9, Fox 2-2 1-3 5, Lewis 1-11 2-4 4, Cowan 2-5 0-0 5, Walker 0-3 0-0 0, Jackson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals -- 17-44 9-14 49.
Fort Hays 22 26 -- 48
NE State 25 24 -- 49
3-point goals -- FHSU 5-23 (Mason 3-12, Bohuslavsky 1-3, Chandler 0-3, Lunsford 1-3, Faxon 0-1, Ingalsbe 0-1); NE 6-15 (Beathard 4-6, Bellamy 1-1, Tate 0-2, Cowan 1-4, Jackson 0-2). Assists -- FHSU 8 (Bohuslavsky 2); NE 8 (Tate 4). Blocks -- FHSU 5 (Lehman 3); NE 6 (Fox 5). Total fouls -- FHSU 16, NE 16. Fouled out -- Edwards, FHSU; Fox, NE.
Rebounds -- FHSU 32 (Lehman 7); NE 38 (Fox 6). Turnovers -- FHSU 8, NE 16. A -- 742.