SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Fort Hays State women’s basketball team ended its season in the NCAA Division II Central Regional semifinals, falling to No. 10-ranked Central Missouri 66-59 on Saturday.
Fort Hays State led by a point at halftime but the Jennies went in front early in the third quarter and maintained a slim lead the rest of the way.
No. 6-seeded FHSU finished 26-7 on the year while No. 2-seeded UCM (26-3) advanced to Monday night’s regional final against top-seeded and host school Augustana.
“I thought we gave them a good shot,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said in the postgame press conference. “We played what I thought was a good ball game, especially defensively. We were strong and basically played toe-to-toe with them. They just hit a couple key shots down the stretch. We just needed them to miss a couple to really stay in there.
“I was really proud of the way our kids played.”
UCM put the Tigers away with a 3-pointer from Morgan Fleming to push the lead to 10 with 1:14 left.
FHSU sophomore guard Kacey Kennett led the Tigers for the second straight game, scoring 17 points with five 3-pointers.
MIAA player of the year Paige Redmond paced the Jennies with 16 points.
The Tigers opened MIAA play at 3-4 before winning 11 of their last 12 in conference play. FHSU won 14 of their final 17 games to close the season.
“We have a lot of people coming back,” Kennett said. “Losing Emma (Stroyan) will be tough just because she was a big factor for us, but I think Belle (Barbieri) has started stepping up even more than she has been. I think we can be pretty tough next year, so it will be exciting.”
FHSU put together its seventh consecutive 20-win season and the second-highest win total under Hobson.
“One thing we have on this team is a huge winner factor,” Hobson said. “We got winners. They’re winners on the floor. They take care of their business off the floor. That’s important.
“We might have overachieved a little bit. I think we exceeded our expectations a little bit. But it doesn’t surprise me coming from these guys.”