It doesn’t always happen this way.
But sometimes, the hotter team just comes out on top.
That’s exactly what happened Saturday to the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team.
Visiting University of Nebraska-Kearney came out hot, stayed hot, and ended up leaving Gross Memorial Coliseum with its first victory against the Tigers in nearly a decade.
UNK hit 11 3s, shot lights out, and handed the Tigers a 78-64 loss.
The loss drops FHSU to 12-4 overall and 3-4 in the MIAA. It was the first time UNK beat FHSU since the 2008-09 season in FHSU coach Tony Hobson’s first year at the helm of the Tiger program.
“We just have to protect our home court better,” Hobson said. “Tonight (UNK) just played much better than we did.”
And that was a big reason why, Hobson said, UNK had so much fire throughout the night. The Lopers shot a blazing 55 percent from the floor, hit 69 percent of their 3s and finished 11 of 13 from the free throw line.
The hot streak started to take its toll on FHSU in the second quarter. After leading just 20-18, UNK found the heat with an 11-2 run that gave the Lopers a 31-20 lead.
FHSU played catch up the rest of the way — and the Lopers had an answer for everything.
“Part of it was defense,” Hobson said. “They made shots because I think our defense wasn’t very good. We were getting beat off the dribble so bad.
“They did a good job of kicking and getting open looks.”
That was especially true for Loper senior McKenzie Brown. Brown was 3-for-3 from long range in the first half, and ended the game going 6-for-6 from 3 and led all scorers with 28 points.
One of the Lopers’ 11 3s came at the halftime buzzer. UNK took an 11-point lead.
From there, FHSU made just one run to threaten the lead. UNK had a 48-32 advantage and led 51-34 before the Tigers — fueled by junior Tatyana Legette — went on an 8-0 run to make it 51-42.
UNK had the answer. The Lopers again beat the buzzer, this time to end the third quarter, and the lead grew back to 15 heading to the final frame.
“They knocked down every opportunity it seemed like when we were trying to get back in it,” Hobson said.
Equally, FHSU couldn’t buy a bucket.
“Couldn’t make a 3 when we needed to,” Hobson said. “We had several opportunities. It’s really hard when the ball doesn’t go in the basket.”
FHSU’s only threat was in the form of Legette. After having just four points at halftime, the junior fired up to finish with 20 for the game. She hit 9 of 13 from the floor, including a 3-pointer. The rest of the team finished 17-for-52 from the floor.
Hobson had a longer postgame chat in the locker room than normal following the loss.
“The conversation is we will be a lot better team the second our players start playing better,” Hobson said. “(UNK) was more active offensively, played with more energy. That’s when you see the ball start going in the basket.”
FHSU is off until Thursday when it takes on Missouri Western State University in a 5:30 p.m. tip at GMC.