EDMOND, Okla. — A late rally from the Fort Hays State University women's basketball team came up one bucket short Saturday, with Central Oklahoma holding on to win 72-70. Both teams are now 19-5 overall and 10-5 in MIAA play, tied for fourth in the league standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Tigers will have another shot at UCO next Saturday when the Bronchos make the return trip to Hays.
The teams went back and forth all afternoon, with neither side leading by more than six points until UCO began to pull away midway through the fourth quarter. The Bronchos built their lead up to 10 points with less than three minutes to play, 72-62, but the Tigers fought all the way back to have a chance to win late.
Central Oklahoma hit only three 3-pointers in the first three periods, but the deep ball started to fall for the home team in the fourth quarter, draining four long range attempts to build its lead to double figures.
The Tigers had an answer after each UCO shot to stay in contention, not allowing UCO to take complete control. After the Bronchos hit a 3 in the corner to take a 10-point lead with 2:43 to play, it did not take long for FHSU to respond. Tatyana Legette poured in a deep 3-pointer from the right wing on the very next possession, closing within seven.
FHSU played solid defense down the stretch, making two turnovers while forcing UCO into a pair of poor shot selections. Legette hit a pair of free throws on the next Tiger possession before Kacey Kennett put back a layup on an offensive rebound with 1:14 remaining, closing within one possession, 72-69.
Legette made a steal on the ensuing possession and was fouled, making one of two free throws to get within two. The Bronchos settled for a corner 3-pointer that rattled out, allowing Taylor Rolfs to control the rebound and call a timeout with 11.2 seconds remaining.
The Tigers advanced the ball to the frontcourt out of the huddle and got the ball to Carly Heim, but her game-tying layup attempt was blocked away by the top shot-blocking team in the conference, securing the UCO victory.
The teams traded the lead nine times over the first three quarters of play, with neither side scoring more than seven points in a row. Lanie Page helped the Tigers to their largest lead of the game, scoring 10 straight points for FHSU spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.
The sophomore hit a 3-pointer to put the Tigers in front by two with 12 seconds to play before halftime, but UCO responded with a triple at the buzzer to take a 36-35 halftime lead. Page then hit a pair of breakaway layups to open the second half before adding a trio of free throws later in the quarter, putting the Tigers in front by four, 42-38. The Bronchos responded with a 14-5 run to turn a four-point deficit into a five-point lead with 1:19 to play in the third quarter.
Legette led all scorers with 18 points, adding eight rebounds and four assists. Page added 17 points, including 12 after halftime. Heim chipped in 12 points, four steals and six rebounds. Five Bronchos reached double figures in the win.
Central Oklahoma won the game in the paint, outscoring FHSU 36-24 under the basket. The Tigers took advantage of 18 Broncho fouls, going 18-for-23 at the charity stripe.
The Tigers will return home to take on Northeastern State on Thursday. First tip is set for 5:30 p.m.