The Fort Hays State women didn't need an offensive explosion in order to post a comfortable win over Missouri Western.
A typical stingy defensive effort for the Tigers was more than enough, with Fort Hays giving up nothing easy to the Griffons on Thursday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“It was 37-24 (at halftime). I told them if they would just guard like they did for those two quarters, they’ll have a hard time catching us, because they’re just not going to score enough,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “We would only have to score about 15 points in two quarters, and I think we’re going to get that.”
The No. 8-ranked Tigers continued to lock down the Griffons in the second half, picking up a workmanlike 67-50 victory to move to 17-1 overall and 8-1 in the MIAA.
FHSU held Western to 36 percent from the field and kept all five of the Griffons' starters in single digits.
“I thought our defense was outstanding, especially late in the second quarter and for the third quarter when we put the game out of reach,” Hobson said. “They were really having a hard time scoring.”
FHSU broke it open in the third quarter, using an 18-4 run to open a 25-point lead. the Tigers led 56-33 at the end of the third, holding Western (9-8, 4-4 MIAA) to just 4 of 14 from the field in the frame.
Fort Hays used some easy baskets down low to break away in the third, hurting the Griffons with cuts to the bucket.
“Since the beginning of the game, coach told us we’re going to have to cut really hard to get open and focus on not standing around on offense when things aren’t going the way we need it to,” FHSU junior Taylor Rolfs said. “Just keep moving and things will work out.”
Whitney Randall led FHSU with 14 off the bench while Rolfs and Lanie Page each added 11. Tatyana Legette matched her career high with 15 rebounds to go along with nine points.
“T took care of the boards for us and Taylor gave us a good scoring punch off the bench,” Hobson said. “I thought it was a good taking-care-of-business type of game.”
Rolfs impacted the game early with nine first-half points.
“Taylor’s been playing really well for us — consistently well, which is really hard to do coming off the bench, but she seems to thrive with that role,” Hobson said. “Those kids are hard to find, because it’s usually like, ‘Coach, I want to start.’ With Taylor, she’s so unselfish. We have about seven starters. Two of them just start on the bench.”
Rolfs said she and the other bench players take pride in providing Fort Hays with a spark when they take the floor.
“He puts you in there, so he obviously expects you to come in and do well,” Rolfs said. “We don’t really let it pressure us too much but we do make it one of our main focuses when we get in there to try as hard as we can, knowing that we have enough people we can put in if we get tired.”
The Tigers went 26 of 61 from the field, 9 of 11 from the foul line and 6 of 17 from 3-point range.
FHSU will play host to Northwest Missouri at 2 p.m. on Saturday.