The No. 13-ranked Fort Hays State women took all the drama out of a top-15 matchup with Emporia State, enjoying their most lopsided win over the Hornets ever.
The Tigers carved up the Hornets’ zone and kept ESU's offense in check all night during an 87-55 thrashing of the No. 15 Hornets on Wednesday in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
After surviving an upset scare with a 71-69 win at Rogers State on Saturday, the Tigers (14-2, 5-2 MIAA) opened up a 38-21 lead at halftime before the lead ballooned to 29 in the third quarter.
“As much as we weren’t ready to play this past Saturday at Rogers State, I think it was the opposite tonight,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “They were zeroed in and realized the error that we made on Saturday, and it wasn't going to happen tonight.
“Just super locked in. I think when you’re into it and playing hard like we were, I think the ball goes into the basket better. The basketball gods will not let lazy people make baskets, and tonight everything was working for us. The ball was going into the basket, and we're hard to handle when that's happening.”
FHSU shot 59.1% from the field (32 of 54) and went 11 of 20 from 3-point range. The 32-point margin of victory is the Tigers' biggest win against Emporia State in 86 all-time meetings between the teams.
Kacey Kennett led six players in double figures with 16 points for the Tigers, while freshman guard Allison McFarren finished with a career-high 15 points off the bench. Taylor Rolfs posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while dishing out six assists.
Jaden Hobbs handed out nine assists and scored 10 points, while Belle Barbieri and Whitney Randall had 10 points each.
"We had everyone scoring, so that was really nice," Rolfs said. "It's nice how we don't have to rely on one person every single night. Like Allison came out and she did so well. She hasn't gotten to play a lot and she was ready to go. That was awesome. I'm happy for her."
McFarren helped kick-start the rout, scoring eight straight points that included back-to-back 3-pointers and a reverse layup in the closing seconds of the half to push the lead to 17. The Tigers led by 22 at the end of the third quarter and led by as much as 37 late in the fourth.
"We got a real spark out of Allison right before half, making a couple threes and making that reverse layup at the buzzer," Hobson said. "She did a really good job and she's a perfect example of a kid that hasn't been playing at all, but has stayed positive and worked real hard on her game. She was just ready when her chance came."
Emporia State (12-3, 5-1) shot just 29.7% from the field. Mollie Mounsey led the Hornets with 23 points.
FHSU, which won its eighth straight game and ended ESU's nine-game winning streak, avenged a 73-69 loss to the Hornets on Dec. 7 in Emporia.
ESU guard Tre'Zure Jobe, who entered averaging 17.7 points per game, was held to two points on 1-of-16 shooting. Jobe scored 25 points against FHSU in the first meeting.
"When we played them the first time, we were switching all the screens, so it was automatic that she was going against our five-man all the time," Hobson said. "Belle does a good job, but she was getting to the basket and Belle wasn't getting much help. Tonight, we just tried to get through all the screens, and I thought Jaden did an excellent job.
"Jaden felt like Jobe got the best of her at Emporia State, and that doesn't happen very often with Jaden. So I think she was really ready to play, and defensively played a great game on her."
ESU senior starter Jessica Wayne missed her sixth straight game with a knee injury.
The Tigers will look for another win over an in-state rival on Saturday, playing host to Washburn at 2 p.m. in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"It was definitely a good boost," Rolfs said of the ESU win. "We were feeling really down after last weekend's game, so this one I really think got us back going to where we need to be mindset-wise. Just keep pushing on and take it day by day."