Lehman's triple-double leaders Tiger women to win
By CONOR NICHOLL
Kate Lehman set another Fort Hays State University mark when she recorded her second triple-double of the season and her career Friday night. Lehman finished with 10 points, 10 blocks and tied her career high with 17 rebounds. She now has two of the three triple-doubles in the Tigers' NCAA Division II era.
After Fort Hays' 55-39 win against Northeastern State University, Riverhawk coach Randy Gipson said Lehman "made a good case" for MIAA Player of the Year with the awards coming out at the beginning of next week.
"She probably does impact the game maybe on both ends of the court more than anybody in this league," Gipson said.
However, Lehman wanted the conversation away from her, the milestone and possible honors. The win was for seniors Katelyn Edwards and Tera Ingalsbe on senior night at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"I don't want it to overshadow senior night, because this night was for Kate and Tera," Lehman said.
Edwards, a three-year starter, and Ingalsbe, a key player since she transferred two seasons ago, were honored in a pregame ceremony with their families.
Both of them held back tears, but the week was emotionally difficult for the duo.
"It's sad, because it's been such a fun year, but I have been thinking about this game a lot, and kind of got all the tears out of the way," Edwards said. "I have had my moments, I think with everybody all week and my family."
The Tigers follow a tradition of the seniors writing notes to the teammates. When she wrote the notes this week, Edwards said it "started to sink in" that she didn't have much time left. Fort Hays, receiving votes in the national poll and No. 10 in the Central Region, stands at 19-7, 12-7 MIAA.
Northeastern State dropped to 10-16, 7-12 MIAA. The Tigers secured the No. 5 seed for the postseason conference tournament and will play at 7 p.m. Monday at home against the University of Nebraka-Kearney.
"There is so much that we can do this season, that I don't want to think that it's the end yet," Edwards said.
Last winter, FHSU lost 54-44 at NSU on Jan. 3 and then came back for a dominant 61-42 victory against the Riverhawks in the conference tournament.
This year was similar. Fort Hays took a frustrating 49-48 loss at NSU on Jan. 18. On Friday, the Tigers never trailed and limited the Riverhawks to no field goals in the first 9 minutes, 17 seconds.
"We just locked them down," Hobson said of last season's win. "That's kind of what we did tonight."
Northeastern State shot 19 percent in the first half and 21 percent for the contest. The Riverhawks' three starting guards combined for 0 of 17 shooting for two points.
"We played really good team defense, better than we have played in a long time," Lehman said. "It was a really good win for our team."
Northeastern State plays at a slower pace and defeated the Tigers in January by hitting three treys in the last five seconds of the shot clock with its deliberate motion offense.
The last two days, FHSU worked often on guarding for the entire 30 seconds of the shot clock. Fort Hays only switched a couple screens, and Hobson was pleased with how well the guards chased on the perimeter.
Especially in the second half, Hobson asked if the guards had the energy to guard without any help defense.
If the Tigers did get beat or were crossed up - which happened a couple of times - Lehman normally blocked the shot.
The Tigers also hustled on rebounds and 50-50 balls and finished plus-11 on the glass. Edwards collected 10 points and 12 rebounds and sophomore point guard Beth Bohuslavsky delivered 12 points.
Courtney Cowan had a game-high 13 points off the bench for the Riverhawks.
"Our perimeter defense was excellent," Hobson said.
At halftime, Lehman had just four points as Fort Hays led 24-15. When Lehman went to the foul line with 7:07 left, she knew she had nine points. She told herself, "Kate, got to make a free throw." She did for her 10th point. With 92 seconds remaining, Riverhawk senior Carrington Fox drove in and Lehman blocked her shot.
Fox collected the offensive rebound and then tried again as the shot clock wound down. Lehman blocked the attempt just as the shot clock expired. Lehman wondered if the official scorers would give her the block - and they did.
"She is a force defensively," Gipson said.