KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team used a fourth-quarter rally to advance to the MIAA Tournament semifinals and improve its NCAA Tournament resume, ending Emporia State’s five-year reign as tournament champions in the process.
The Tigers trailed by five after three quarter but unleashed a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 57-54 win after Emporia State missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds on Thursday at Municipal Auditiorium.
FHSU shot just 16 of 46 from the floor and went 1 of 15 from 3-point range, but the lone 3-pointer came at a big time. Taylor Rolfs hit a trey to cut the Hornets’ lead to 42-40 with 7:31 left to start an 8-0 run.
“I told Taylor she was asked to come to the press conference because she hit her our only 3 on the game. She was by far our best 3-pointer shooter today,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson joked during the postgame press conference. “We really struggled from the field and had a hard time scoring, especially during the second half.
“We just kind of hung in there and found a way to win. Defensively, I felt we held them at bay for the most part and did a decent job.”
FHSU, ranked ninth in the Central Region rankings, snapped the Hornets’ 16-game winning streak in the MIAA Tournament.
“They’ve struggled a little bit lately but we knew once we got here, they would be a tough out,” Hobson said of ESU. “It’s significant in that we’re still playing and I liked the way our team dealt with a lot of adversity of today, mainly self inflicted, but a lot of adversity to come out of this thing with a win.”
ESU (17-11) cut FHSU’s lead to 56-54 on a 3-point play by Jessica Wayne before Rolfs was fouled with nine seconds left. She hit one of two free throws, and ESU’s Jacee Kramer came up short on a 3 just before time expired.
Carly Heim was the only Tiger in double figures, scoring 13 to go along with four steals and five rebounds.
FHSU will advance to face the Pittsburg State in the semifinals at noon on Saturday.