Forced turnovers and steals helped the Fort Hays State women's basketball team find its groove after a long layoff for the holiday break.

The No. 16-ranked Tigers harassed Missouri Southern into 24 turnovers and nabbed 17 steals to notch a workmanlike 75-59 win over the Lions on Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

“More than anything, I think we just played hard,” FHSU senior forward Belle Barbieri said. “I think we went after every loose ball.”

After building a 16-point lead by halftime, the Tigers (10-2, 1-2 MIAA) saw the Lions cut it to 10 early in the third quarter, but Fort Hays pushed the lead back to 19 by the end of the third and remained in control.

The Tigers produced 31 points off 24 turnovers while committing just 10 turnovers themselves.

“There in the third quarter I thought we started out a little flat,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “A couple times off of free throws, we pressed them and kind of got them going at a different speed; we turned them over several times doing that.

“Overall, I thought our defense was OK. Any time you’re plus 14 on the turnovers I think you’re going to come out in good shape.”

Barbieri filled up the stat sheet for the Tigers. The senior forward from Abilene scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out five assists and recorded a career-high five steals.

“I think it was really just watching the ball,” Barbieri said of the steals. “There were a couple times where we really didn’t talk and I just got kind of lucky with it. But I think a lot of it is just predicting what they can do and anticipating what they can do; that’s something I feel like I’ve improved on during the years, especially with post and guards screens that I have to cover.”

Taylor Rolfs scored 13 points and had four assists, while Whitney Randall chipped in 11 points with seven rebounds.

Randall again drew the start for senior guard Lanie Page, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, Hobson confirmed. Page suffered the injury Dec. 18 against Harding in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Tigers shot 40% from the field (24 of 60), while Southern went 23 of 53 for a 43.4% clip from the field. FHSU went 20 of 28 from the foul line while Southern was 5 of 7 from the stripe.

“I think every time they’d score a couple, we would at least answer it to some extent, or get to the line,” Hobson said. “I thought Belle did a good job on the offensive boards; she gave several second opportunities.

“It looked kind of like we’d been off for a little spell,” Hobson added. “There were 10 days there where we didn’t have any kind of practice, and even though you come back and practice for four days, it’s still not quite the same.”

Sophomore Cydney Bergmann turned in a solid outing off the bench, adding nine points and three steals in 20 minutes.

“I think she’s going to continue to get better," Hobson said of Bergmann. "She’s still kind of getting her feet wet with the minutes. I think the more comfortable she gets, the better she’s going to be. She did a good job today.”

FHSU junior guard Jaden Hobbs recorded eight points and three steals while freshman guard Lauryn Reither contributed seven points and five steals.

Destiny Cozart led the Lions with 14 points, while Layne Skiles and Chasidee Owens added 13 points each. Southern dropped to 3-8 overall and 0-3 in conference play.

The Tigers were set to face league-leading Pittsburg State (7-4, 3-0 MIAA) on Monday night in Gross Memorial Coliseum. Check and Wednesday's print edition for a recap on the game.