Prior to the start of Thursday’s MIAA contest at Gross Memorial Coliseum, the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team found out visiting Missouri Western State University had only seven players suiting up.
Not even five minutes into the game, the Griffons were down to six after an an injury to starter Jessica Davies ended her game.
So, FHSU head coach Tony Hobson was a little more understanding of the fact his team seemed to lack a little focus. It’s only natural to think a college basketball team with just six healthy players is going to keep pace on the road.
The contest will be recorded as a 58-36 win for the Tigers, to push FHSU back to .500 in conference play. But, even just six strong, the Griffons made it far from easy on the home team.
“It’s just a thing where sometimes probably there is a little mental letdown, maybe thinking there’s no way they’re going to play with us,” Hobson said. “You have to give them credit. They played hard the whole game, good defense.”
And even though the Griffons had just six players, it played out like the typical FHSU, MWSU game — hard and physical. So much so, neither team ever was really able to establish much of a rhythm.
An early run, though, by the Tigers was enough to establish an early lead, one the Tigers never relinquished. Sophomore Lanie Page, making her first start in a Tiger uniform, got the ball rolling. The transfer from Kansas State University hit a 3, then followed that with a jumper to have FHSU up 5-3. Then senior Emma Stroyan and junior Tatyana Legette got in on the action. Stroyan hit a 3, followed by five straight points for Legette and by the 2:47 mark of the first quarter the Tigers led by 10 after a layup by junior Carly Heim.
Despite the early lead, Hobson said it didn’t seem the Tigers came out with all that much energy, considering they suffered a rare home loss to University of Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday.
“I just don’t think we’re playing with a lot of energy,” Hobson said. “We just have to concentrate on that.”
Even with the addition of Page, Hobson said, the lack of excitement is just a result of the type of players the Tigers have. There’s not a lot of change in facial expression from tip to buzzer.
“They’re pretty calm under pressure, but they’re pretty calm all the time,” Hobson said. “That’s just how they are. Sometimes they have to be aware of getting into it a little bit.
“It’s OK to celebrate a good play,” he added.
After the early run, and one later that got the lead into the 20s for FHSU, those big plays seemed few and far between, However, the Tigers played a clean enough game, despite the rough style of play.
“Anytime you play Missouri Western, it’s going to be a rock fight or if you want to call it a knife fight,” Hobson said. “It’s always going to be kind of rough.”
The good news for the Tigers was the big lead was enough that Hobson was able to play deep on the bench all game, saving some energy for Saturday’s 2 p.m. date with Northwest Missouri State University as the Tigers attempt to climb back above .500 in the MIAA.
Stroyan finished with 14 points and Legette 13 with nine Tigers scoring in the low-scoring affair.
Missouri Western, plagued by injuries and illness, has had one game this season where it finished with four players. The Griffons started 9-1, but after Thursday’s loss, slipped to 10-8 overall and 3-6 in MIAA play. FHSU moved to 13-4, 4-4.
Northwest Missouri enters Saturday’s contest 1-16 overall and 0-9 in conference play after an 88-79 loss Thursday at Nebraska-Kearney.