TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — After fighting tooth and nail with the RiverHawks of Northeastern State over the first 20 minutes, the 13th-ranked Fort Hays State women's basketball team used a sharp-shooting second half to capture its sixth-straight victory Thursday (Jan. 9), 77-66. The win is Fort Hays State's 13th-straight victory against Northeastern State.
The Tigers buried 16-of-23 shots from the floor after halftime, including a 5-for-8 effort from behind the arc to pull away.
The lead changed hands four times in the first quarter before the Tigers began to pull away late in the frame. Taylor Rolfs made a driving layup late in the first quarter to spark an 11-2 Tiger run, giving FHSU its largest lead of the first half at 30-18. The RiverHawks responded with a 13-2 run midway through the second quarter, including nine-straight points to close within one, 34-33. Belle Barbieri gave the Tigers a 36-33 lead at the break after dropping in a layup on the final Tiger possession of the half. Barbieri finished the first half with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from both the floor and the free-throw line.
Northeastern State fought back to take a 41-40 lead early in the third quarter before the Tigers started to hit their stride. After free throws from Jaden Hobbs helped the Tigers regain the lead, Rolfs took over. The senior drilled 3-pointers on three of the next four trips down the floor, singlehandedly stretching the lead to eight. Barbieri followed with a layup, putting the Tigers in front 55-45 and prompting a RiverHawk timeout.
The Tigers did not miss a shot inside the arc in the fourth quarter, hitting 6-of-6 from 2-point range and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe to maintain their lead. Northeastern State did force five Tiger turnovers in the final frame to keep the game within reach, but the Tigers made the most of their opportunities to stay on top.
Fort Hays State knocked down 52.7 percent from the floor on the night, its highest shooting output against a Division II opponent this season. The Tigers outrebounded the RiverHawks 27-20, including nine second-chance points on seven offensive boards. FHSU hit 12-of-14 free throws on the evening, including a perfect 8-for-8 effort from Hobbs.
Barbieri led all scorers with 18 points after pouring in 7-of-8 from the floor. The Abilene, Kan. senior added a team-high eight rebounds alongside three steals and one assist. Hobbs chipped in 17 points, six rebounds, three rebounds and two steals.
Rolfs contributed 16 points on the night, including 14 after halftime. The senior guard buried 4-of-5 attempts from behind the arc while dishing out five assists. Kacey Kennett and Whitney Randall added nine points each, giving the Tiger starting lineup all but eight points on the night.
Shae Sanchez paced the RiverHawks with 14 points, with Cenia Hayes close behind with 13 points.
The Tigers wrap up the quick road trip Saturday (Jan. 11) when they face off with Rogers State for the first time in program history. First tip is set for 2 p.m. from Claremore, Okla.