Basketball coaches often argue a game can’t be won in the first half. It can only be lost.
Fort Hays State University women’s basketball coach Tony Hobson would argue against that fact — at least for the time being.
Saturday against visiting Washburn University at Gross Memorial Coliseum, the 10th-year Tiger head coach saw his club outscore the Ichabods 20-3 in the second quarter. And that quite literally was the difference in the game. FHSU picked up its sixth straight win, sending Washburn away with a 66-47 defeat.
“I can argue with that tonight,” Hobson said. “That game was decided in the second quarter.
“All we had to do was play the second half with some intensity and not get lazy.”
On the other end after the big run, Washburn — after leading early — was just looking to not get run out of the gym. It was the second game in a row the Ichabods struggled in the second quarter, and suffered a loss.
“(After the 20-3 second quarter), we just had to survive and not embarrass ourselves,” Washburn coach Ron McHenry said.
The Ichabods dropped their second straight in the west road trip, while FHSU won its sixth straight, including a blowout Wednesday against Emporia State. In that game, FHSU trailed by 15 in the first half. Saturday was more of the same — with a little less drama.
“It had a lot of the same tendencies,” Hobson said, comparing the two big MIAA wins. “The only difference was we didn’t get behind by 15.”
But Washburn did its best to jump out early. The Ichabods (14-8 overall, 6-7 MIAA) led 12-7 after a 3-pointer by sophomore Cara Donley, then led 15-9 on a 3 by freshman Hunter Bentley. That was at the 3:32 mark of the first quarter. Scoring was rare the rest of the half.
“Our wheel kind of broke and we didn’t get back and guard,” McHenry said. “Hays has got a good basketball team. They can do some scoring.”
In the 20-3 second quarter, a combination of FHSU senior Emma Stroyan and freshman Whitney Clampitt got things going. Stroyan scored the first eight in the run, and Clampitt scored four straight. By the 3:46 mark before halftime, the Tigers had jumped out to a 15-point lead.
“Just a good effort by our kids,” Hobson said. “It’s been a good week for us. Our kids have been focused and understand the importance of these games and have kept us in the hunt in the conference race.”
Coupled with Wednesday’s 21-point outing, Stroyan produced her second straight big night. She ended with 15 points, while junior Carly Heim poured in a fourth straight star effort with 20 points, three rebounds and four assists.
Plus she played 38 minutes straight before being pulled with the game in hand, holding Washburn sophomore Reagan Phelan to just 10 points on 5 of 14 shooting.
“Talk about somebody that’s had a good run of games,” Hobson said of Heim.
The Tigers’ lead reached as much as 28 points early in the fourth quarter on a Heim jumper. The closest Washburn got from there was 17 points with 4:21 left.
“They’ve been playing well,” McHenry said of FHSU, which moved into fourth place with the win. “They’re getting on a bit of a roll with six wins in a row against good teams.”
Sophomore Taylor Rolfs added 13 points for FHSU, hitting three 3s, while Clampitt enjoyed a second straight strong outing with seven points. The only negative for FHSU was sophomore Kansas State transfer Lanie Page exiting in the first half with an ankle injury. Hobson said the Wamego product will have an X-ray on Monday to determine the damage.
The next four games for FHSU are either against Northeastern State or No. 21 Central Oklahoma, starting with a two-game swing this week in Oklahoma, followed by rematches the following week at home. Washburn returns home Wednesday to face Missouri Western State University, a 5:30 p.m. start at Lee Arena.