After Fort Hays State's mainstays helped the Tiger women's basketball team break away for a comfortable lead, FHSU's reserves took advantage of their chance for extended minutes in Friday's home opener against Adams State.
The bench produced 42 points and all 13 Tigers that played entered the scoring column as No. 7-ranked Fort Hays rolled to a 79-39 win over the Grizzlies at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"You could tell some of them saw limited minutes last weekend, and when they got their chance tonight, they were excited to play and they came in and did a good job," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said of his reserves. "They ran the floor well, and for the most part, were pretty good on the defensive end. It's good to see those kids get a chance to play and to do well, because they put in the same amount of hours as our starters and girls that play a lot, and they deserve a chance."
FHSU (3-0) led 33-15 at halftime, and the lead ballooned to 35 points by the end of the third quarter.
Senior forward Belle Barbieri, who turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, said it was encouraging to see the Tigers' reserves and newcomers run with their opportunity.
"Tonight was pretty full and I think some of the young girls were kind of noticing that," Barbieri said. "It was a good game to work them in and kind of calm down their nerves; I think once you get into it, it's not as bad. Overall, it was a pretty good night for us I thought."
After scoring 17 points during all of last season in limited action as a freshman, Concordia product Cydney Bergmann contributed a career-high 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench Friday.
"She brings us some athleticism," Hobson said of Bergmann. "She's really a strong kid. She's a great vertical jumper. She can go up in a crowd and get a rebound.
"If she was 5-11 or 6-foot, she'd probably be illegal. She's not, she's 5-8 and a half, but, boy, she plays way bigger than that. I just like the way she plays hard. She can score through a little bit of contact. I've been looking for a chance to get her in there and let her play a little bit. Tonight was a really good game for her."
Junior college transfer Cassidy Haufler scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in 12 minutes, and freshman guards Lauryn Reither and Allison McFarren each logged significant time, with Reither playing nearly 19 minutes and McFarren 13.
Lanie Page led the Tigers with 11 points, while Barbieri notched a double-digit rebounding effort for the third straight game to begin the season.
"My main focus ever since I've been here is rebounding," Barbieri said. "I've always known T (Tatyana Legette) is obviously a really good rebounder and since she's been gone, I realize next up is me, so I realize I have to pick up the pieces of where she left off. That's always been kind of my main focus. If I'm not having a good game, at least make sure I'm rebounding."
The Tigers, who won their 16th straight home opener, hit a brief drought late in the first quarter, but outscored the Grizzlies 20-5 in the second frame to start pulling away.
"The first quarter we got where we were just standing around too much," Hobson said. "We weren't rolling off the screens very hard. If you just float around the 3-point line waiting for somebody to penetrate and kick, it looks like what you saw. Second quarter we got better movement. We changed what we were running a little bit and just got open shots."
FHSU went 45 percent from the field (30 of 66) and were 8 of 21 from 3-point range.
Adams State, just 2-24 a year ago and 0-3 this season, shot 36 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers. Fort Hays had a 43-27 advantage on the boards.
"Our screen saver is we're going to play hard," Hobson said. "It's something that you have to have all the time. Our kids know that I expect that out of them. You've got to have the effort, and I think as long as you have that, usually you're going to be decent on the defensive end. We did some things wrong, but it wasn't because we weren't playing hard."
In the first game of Friday's doubleheader at Gross Memorial Coliseum, Nebraska-Kearney held off Cameron, 79-73. UNK will meet Adams State at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by FHSU vs. Cameron (1-2).
"Cameron is really scrappy. They're tough," Hobson said. "They're not overly big, but you don't have to be big to be tough. They get to the basket real well. They got two or three kids that can take you off the dribble and two good 3-point shooters. I thought they looked good."