The Fort Hays State women's basketball team took a break from the stresses of finals week to bounce back from a pair of losses and enjoy a lopsided win.
The Tigers built an 18-point lead by the end of the first quarter and continued to cruise against Bethany, picking up a 92-40 victory on Wednesday night in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"It's finals week, this is a tough week to have games because we are focused on school, too," FHSU senior guard Kacey Kennett said. "But I thought we did a decent job with it."
"It's a lot of late nights and early mornings trying to get school work done," Kennett added. "It's kind of nice to have a game during this week, too, just to have a little fun during finals week."
Kennett led the No. 19-ranked Tigers with 17 points, while Whitney Randall scored 16 off the bench and Belle Barbieri chipped in 12 as the Tigers improved to 7-2 and ended a two-game skid after road losses to Nebraska-Kearney and Emporia State last week.
"Our kids are all good students, take their classes seriously, so it's kind of a stressful time for them," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said of finals week. "I was just hoping to kind of get the bad taste out of our mouth from a couple tough, close losses last week, get everybody a lot of playing time and then just don't be sloppy, try to execute. I think we accomplished that."
Fort Hays forced Bethany into 32 turnovers, the most the Tigers have forced in a game since 2013. The Swedes were just 7 of 25 from the field in the first half, trailing FHSU 45-17 at halftime. Bethany heated up in the second half to finish at a 41.5% clip (17 of 41).
Hobson said showing patience on offense and playing stout defense were points of emphasis following the losses.
"I think sometimes we settle for shots we don't need," he said. "We just need to move it on to the next opportunity, just reverse the ball. We've got continuity in everything we run, but sometimes we get impatient and start putting it on the floor. Defensively, I think we can be better. It was a good opportunity for us to just try and completely shut somebody down. I thought our defense was OK."
"We just need to pick it up, overall," Kennett said. "I think the intensity for Emporia was there. I mean, Emporia's a good team, you've got to give them credit. With Kearney, we were just a little slow. We're still just kind of figuring things out. We got a couple new players who are getting good minutes. We're getting there."
Jaden Hobbs, Taylor Rolfs and Barbieri combined to dish out 15 of the Tigers' 22 assists on the night. Hobbs recorded seven assists, while Rolfs and Barbieri finished with four each.
"Jaden finds the open person," Hobson said. "She's a pass-first point guard, even though she can score. Our kids, if they would just cut and move, she will find them. Taylor had a couple nice passes. She's been playing at a high level.
"As long as you have unselfish kids, and we have a lot of good offensive players, if they will just move, usually we will find them."
Randall's 16 points were a season high for the junior forward, who went 5 of 9 from the field, 1 of 2 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the foul line. She grabbed six rebounds.
"I thought Whitney Randall had an excellent game, played real well, rebounded the ball better than she has been," Hobson said. "It was good to see the three drop for her because she's an excellent shooter, but she doesn't shoot enough of them because she hasn't been hitting them. I was glad to see one go, so maybe she'll relax a little bit more and take more of them."
FHSU finished 33 of 66 from the field and 9 of 21 from 3-point range.
Bethany (8-5, 5-3 KCAC) was paced by Hannah Ferguson's eight points.
The Tigers will wrap up nonconference play next week in the 2019 Cruzin Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fort Hays will play Harding at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday before taking on No. 6 Saint Anselm at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.