With finals week approaching, the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team aced its toughest hardwood test to date on Saturday, as the Tigers knocked off top-ranked Emporia State 54-51.

It was the second consecutive year the Tigers (8-2, 2-2) have knocked off a top-ranked Hornet squad at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Much like last year’s game, there was some late drama. FHSU led by 10 with less than four minutes to play, but the Hornets (9-1, 1-1) found themselves with a chance to tie the game in its final moments.

After the Tigers struggled to inbound with a three-point lead and 30 seconds to play, freshman Kacey Kennett lobbed a pass to Tatyana Legette. Legette got the ball to Carly Heim near mid-court. Heim went to the ground on a physical play, but the refs signaled a jump ball that saw ESU take over with 21 seconds to play.

Kyrstie Miller got potential tying shot up with 13 seconds left and saw Jacee Kramer come down with an offensive rebound. Miller got another look, an open shot from in front of the ESU bench, but it careened off the back of the rim and into the arms of FHSU senior Niki Kacperska as time expired. The Tigers breathed a quick sigh of relief before celebrating in the middle of the court.

“I almost passed out,” Legette said. “I’m pretty sure half the team almost passed out. We were just really excited and came to play.”

Despite shooting 28.6 percent for the game, the Tigers were able to hold the Hornets to 26.3 percent from the field with some stingy defense.

“Coach talked to us like we just gotta be ready to play,” Legette said. “They are a strong, hard-working team. We knew that we could go up there and play with them. Our defense… we really focused on that and made sure that everyone had intensity.”

Legette’s best offensive game to date also helped.

Emporia scored the first eight points of the game and owned a 16-12 lead after the first quarter. An 11-point second quarter for Legette helped the Tigers take a two-point lead to the break.

With 3 minutes and 4 seconds left in the quarter, Legette grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for a score to give her seven points.

“It’s almost like it’s better just to shoot it and say ‘T go get it,’ ” Hobson said. “She made some really good plays.”

A three-point play from the Topeka native gave FHSU a 26-25 lead with 1:13 left in the quarter before another free throw made it 27-25 at the half. Legette scored the Tigers’ last 11 points of the first half.

“I’m really happy for her because she’s been progressing,” Hobson said. “We’ve seen some flashes, but this was her best game.”

While she started the second half on the bench, she was the first Tiger to score in the third quarter, converting a layup nearly four minutes in. A little more than two minutes later, she gave the Tigers a four-point advantage, stripping ESU’s Jessica Wayne in the open court and taking it in for an uncontested fast-break score.

“That’s my favorite play, actually,” Legette said. “I knew if I didn’t get that steal, they were going to pass it up, and I was probably going to get yelled at. I really wanted to get that.”

She then added a layup and a pair of free throws to score 17 consecutive FHSU points and keep the Tigers in front by two late in the third quarter.

The sophomore forward played unaware she had such a streak going.

“I didn’t know about that, but that’s the key,” Legette said. “You just gotta go out there and play. You gotta focus and things will fall.”

Taylor Chandler broke up Legette’s individual run with a pair of free throws with 1:12 to play in the third, but Legette closed the quarter with two makes from the free throw line that gave the Tigers a 42-34 advantage with 10 minutes to play.

“She just played with so much energy,” Hobson said. “She was about the only one we had that could really clear a rebound. It was so rough in there. She had a great game for us.”

Legette scored her final bucket 12 seconds into the fourth quarter to give FHSU a 10-point lead.

The Hornets hit three of their five 3-pointers in the final quarter, including consecutive makes from Miller, who led the Hornets with 11 points, and Kelly Moten. Moten, the Hornets leading scorer at more than 16 points per game, had just two points entering the fourth quarter. She finished with nine points on 1 of 9 shoot from the field.

Hobson credited Chandler and reserve forward Sarah Pimentel with slowing the ESU slasher.

“Those two really did a good job, and we did a good job with our help and our switches,” the FHSU coach said. “She shot 17 times and had a hard time scoring. She got to the line some late, but we really made her work for it.”

Moten’s final two points, a pair of free throws, made it a three-point game with just under a minute to play before the Tigers came up with one final stop.

It wasn’t always pretty offensively for FHSU, especially outside of Legette, but the Tigers had enough grit for another big win at home.

“If you don’t play D and aren’t tough, you can’t beat the No. 1 team shooting 29 percent,” Hobson said. “It was a good defensive game both ways. They guarded us. We had a hard time getting an open look, so did they. I just didn’t know if we were capable of guarding that tough for 40 minutes, but our kids really hung in there.”

The FHSU women take the Gross Memorial Coliseum court again on Wednesday against Tabor College.

Men

Emporia State 75

Fort Hays State 67

The Fort Hays State men used a strong finish to make Saturday’s final score against Emporia State look better than it was for most of the game.

The Hornets (4-6 1-1) used a scorching shooting performance from beyond the arc to take a 24-point lead after a Jevon Taylor triple with 11:37 to play. Stephaun Limuel once again made it a 24-point ESU cushion with another 3 with 8:35 to play. FHSU (6-4 2-2) won the remainder of the game 28-12 to make things look more respectable. Sophomore guard Kyler Kinnamon hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer to get the Tigers within single digits.

“We just tried to show a little fight,” senior guard Rob Davis said. “We didn’t want to go out that bad. They were up 20 on our home court.”

Hadley Gillum got the Tigers out in front with the game’s first bucket, but the ESU shooters quickly found a rhythm.

Brandon Hall’s second 3-pointer of the first eight minutes gave ESU a 17-9 lead with 15 of those points coming from deep. Garin Vandiver stretched the Hornet advantage to 13 with a triple before FHSU narrowed the gap to 10 at half. ESU went back to the locker room having made 8 of 13 from deep and finished the game 14 of 27.

“They’re a great team,” Davis said. “We just gotta execute on defense a little better.”

Davis scored a game-high 32 points on 11 of 17 shooting, while Hall led the Hornets with 18. Josh Pedersen and Vandiver each added 13 points.

The Tigers return to action Wednesday night against Bethel.

Men

Emporia State 75, Fort Hays State 67

ESU (75)

Pedersen 3-5 4-4 13, Fisher 1-2 0-0 2, Morton 2-6 2-2 8, Jordan 1-6 0-0 3, Hall 7-17 2-2 18, Limuel 2-3 0-2 5, Temaat 0-1 0-0 0, Hodge 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 2-3 0-0 6, Emery 3-4 1-1 7, Sardin 0-1 0-0 0, Vandiver 4-8 2-2 13, Totals 25-56 11-13 75.

FHSU (67)

Gillum 2-7 2-2 6, Smith 0-7 0-2 0, Kinnamon 3-8 0-0 7, Davis 11-17 8-9 32, O’Neil 0-3 0-0 0, Nicholson 2-3 2-2 7, Holes 2-3 3-3 7, Stephens 1-2 0-0 2, Werth 2-6 0-0 4, Sabic 0-0 0-0 0, Kite 0-1 0-0 0, Reed 0-2 2-2 2, Totals 23-59 17-20 67.

ESU 37 38 — 75

FHSU 27 40 — 68

3-point goals — ESU 14-27 (Pedersen 3-4, Morton 2-4, Jordan 1-4, Hall 2-4, Limuel 1-2, Temaat 0-1, Taylor 2-3, Vandiver 3-5), FHSU 4-13 (Kinnamon 1-3, Davis 2-4, O’Neil 0-2, Nicholson 1-2, Werth 0-2). Rebounds — ESU 34 (Morton 6), FHSU 33 (Kite 9). Assists — ESU 17 (Jordan, Hall 5), FHSU 8 (Davis 3). Fouls — ESU 19 (Vandiver 4), FHSU 15 (Gillum, Kinnamon, O’Neil 3).

Women

Fort Hays State 54, Emporia State 51

ESU (51)

Moala 0-2 3-6 3, Miller 4-17 1-2 11, Moten 1-9 6-8 9, Holloway 2-4 0-0 5, Lackey 4-11 2-2 10, Laudan 0-1 0-0 0, Wayne 2-6 0-2 4, Kramer 1-5 4-4 7, Baker 1-1 0-0 2, Graves 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 15-57 16-24 51.

FHSU (54)

Stroyan 0-2 4-4 4, Chandler 1-6 2-2 4, Kacperska 1-6 3-3 5, Kennett 2-7 0-0 6, Faxon 1-10 2-4 4, Rolfs 1-2 0-0 3, Mittie 1-4 0-0 3, Heim 0-2 0-0 0, Legette 6-9 11-15 23, Pimentel 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 14-49, 22-28 54.

ESU 16 9 9 17 — 51

FHSU 12 15 15 12 — 54

3-point goals — ESU 5-15 (Miller 2-9, Moten 1-1, Holloway 1-1, Lackey 0-2, Wayne 0-1, Kramer 1-1), FHSU 4-12 (Chandler 0-1, Kacperska 0-2, Kennett 2-3, Faxon 0-3, Rolfs 1-2, Mittie 1-1). Rebounds — ESU 44 (Moala, Miller 7), FHSU 39 (Legette 10). Assists — ESU 7 (Moten 4), FHSU 7 (Stroyan, Kacperska 2). Fouls — ESU 26 (Holloway 5), FHSU 23 (Stroyan, Kennett 4).