The Fort Hays State women's basketball team kept pace with a talented K-State squad for much of the night before falling 78-60 in exhibition play Friday (Nov. 1). After trailing by as many as 17 early in the third quarter, the Tigers closed within one possession early in the final quarter before the Wildcats pulled away down the stretch.
It was the final preseason tune-up for the No. 7/3 Tigers, who will open the regular season one week from today in St. Joseph, Mo.
The Tigers were well balanced on offense, with 11 of the 12 Tigers that played scoring at least one point. Belle Barbieri and Jaden Hobbs led the team with 10 points each. Allison McFarren (nine points), Taylor Rolfs (seven), Kacey Kennett (six) and Whitney Randall (five) also scored at least five points on the night.
K-State's size advantage was evident on the stat sheet, with the Wildcats outrebounding FHSU 53-27 and outscoring the Tigers in the paint 36-22.
In addition to leading the team in scoring, Barbieri also paced the team with five rebounds and four assists. McFarren was the only Tiger to knock down multiple shots from behind the arc, drilling 3-of-6 of her 3-point attempts.
Kennett knocked down a pair of jumpers in a span of 22 seconds thanks to a steal from Rolfs to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead less than two minutes into the game, FHSU's only lead of the night.
After trailing by as many as five, a layup from Rolfs early in the second quarter helped the Tigers close within one, 18-17. K-State started to pull away over the heart of the second quarter, using a 17-5 run to go in front by 13, 37-24. McFarren ended an 8-0 Wildcat run with a 3-pointer before Rolfs made another steal and knocked down a triple of her own, trimming the deficit to seven in just 11 seconds.
After leading by 10 at halftime, 41-31, K-State scored the first seven points of the second half to pad the lead to 17. The Black and Gold responded with a 16-4 run over the final 7:32 of the third quarter, closing within five with 10 minutes to play. While the rest of the team took advantage of trips to the charity stripe, hitting 6-of-8 free throws, both Hobbs and Madison Mittie knocked down 3-pointers to give the Tigers some life.
Hobbs scored on a layup after a dish from Barbieri on the first possession of the final quarter to close within one possession, 52-49, before the home team finished things off thanks to a 26-11 run. K-State hit 10-of-18 from the floor during the final stretch to secure the victory.
After knocking down 40 percent (12-of-30) from the floor in the opening half, the Tigers finished the game with a shooting percentage of 33.9 percent (21-of-62). FHSU hit 6-of-17 from deep, good for 35.3 percent. The Tigers created 21 Wildcat turnovers while turning the ball over just 15 times. Both teams were credited with nine steals.
The Tigers open the season next weekend in St. Joseph, Mo. against two of the top teams from the NSIC, both of whom won 20 or more games last year. The regular season opens against Minnesota Duluth, who reached the NCAA DII Tournament last year, on Friday (Nov. 8) at 1:30 p.m. FHSU wraps up the opening weekend against Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. Both games will be played inside the St. Joseph Civic Arena.