KEARNEY, Neb. — Despite falling two games behind Missouri Western State following a loss to the Griffons in St. Joseph, the No. 7 Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team entered Saturday’s conference matchup at Nebraska-Kearney with as many MIAA losses and one win behind the conference leaders.

Staying a win back of the Griffons required a pair of comebacks Saturday, as the Tigers topped the Lopers 82-81 in overtime.

Senior point guard, and Nebraska native Beth Bohuslavsky was the hero, scoring off an inbound play in the final seconds. Senior Paige Lunsford received the inbounds pass and made the correct read to find her open teammate.

“If the defense was back, we were going to hand off and screen and kinda create that way,” Bohuslavsky said. “They doubled Paige, so the other option is a backdoor cut. That’s what we did, and it was successful. I thought I was going to get swatted, though.”

UNK scrambled up the court, but could not put a shot on target. With the game on the line in the final seconds, FHSU coach Tony Hobson went to two of his most trusted players.

“Paige and Beth, you gotta trust them,” Hobson said. “They’ve been in a lot of battles. They made a good read and Beth made a good cut and a tough shot over two people.”

The Tigers had an opportunity to win in regulation, but allowed an offensive rebound in the final seconds, and Loper forward Bri Starks made them pay, sinking an uncontested floater as time expired.

The Tigers needed a late run, and some help from the UNK bench, to get back into the game in the final minutes. Bri Starks hit a short jumper with 3 minutes, 6 seconds to play, putting UNK up 68-62.

Bohuslavsky made a layup to bring it to four. UNK coach Carrie Hofstetter received a technical after yelling for a foul call on the Lopers’ ensuing possession.

Niki Kacperska stepped to the free throw and made both to make it a two-point game. The Polish junior added a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up one off the inbound with 1:09 to play.

The lead exchanged hands twice in the last minute before Jill Faxon split a pair of free throws to put FHSU up two before Starks’ late score.

Despite a number of late lead changes and the fact that UNK lead for nearly 30 of the 45 minutes, Hobson said.

“We should’ve ended it in regulation,” Hobson said. “They were fortunate to get it into overtime. We were fortunate to get back from six down inside of two minutes. That game had a lot of ups and downs. It looked like we were out of it a couple times”

FHSU opened the game on an 8-0 run thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Chelsea Mason. UNK, however, responded behind a pair of 3-pointers to tie the game at 12. Alexa Hogbergs’ 3-pointer, her second of the opening quarter, gave the Lopers a 19-17 advantage after one quarter.

Paige Lunsford one-upped the UNK junior with a deep triple as time expired to bring FHSU within one at the half at 36-35. The Tigers headed back to the locker room 7-14 from deep, but the Lopers made 6-9 through two quarters.

Jill Faxon hit a 3-pointer to give FHSU a lead early in the third, but a pair of Laramey Becker helped the Lopers’ take a five-point lead midway through the third.

Two buckets from Lunsford and one from Kacperska allowed FHSU to take a 51-50 lead later in the third, but UNK closed the quarter on a 6-0 run.

FHSU did not lead in the fourth quarter until Kacperska’s late three after the technical.

The win wrapped up a regular-season sweep of UNK with both the wins coming in overtime. FHSU beat UNK, 82-75, on Dec. 12 at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The Tigers clinched a berth in the MIAA tournament with Saturday’s win and sit in second place after Missouri Western held on for a one-point win earlier Saturday. The Tigers aren’t losing sleep about their current position in the standings, however.

“We’ll let that fall into place,” Bohuslavsky said. “We just gotta worry about ourselves and play every game better than we did today.”

The Tigers allowed UNK to make 10 of 20 from three-point range. Hogberg made 4 of 5 from deep and led UNK with 21 points, while Becker added 10 on 2 of 4 from deep.

Lunsford led the Tigers with 21 points on 8 of 10 from the field. She added seven rebounds and five assists, including the biggest one of the night. Bohuslavksy, the third Tiger in double figures, added 13 points and nine assists. Mason did most of her damage early, but finished with 11 points on 3 of 6 from deep. The Tigers made 11 of 24 attempts on the night.

FHSU returns home on Thursday when they host Central Missouri at Gross Memorial Coliseum.