For whatever reason, Fort Hays State women’s basketball coach Tony Hobson felt his Tigers were just a little off in Saturday’s home finale with Northeastern State.
FHSU was unable to sustain a hot start, finishing just 38.5% from the floor and 3 of 17 from 3-point range
Fortunately for the Tigers, they were able to fight through the sluggishness and celebrate Senior Day with a 67-58 win over the RiverHawks.
The Tigers looked poised for a runaway win early, jumping out to a 17-3 advantage and leading 19-7 at the end of the first frame. Northeastern State outscored the Tigers by a point in each of the last three quarters to hang around.
"I thought we started off the game good and we were really focused," Hobson said. "As the game wore on, I thought we looked tired a little bit. It was almost too easy when the game started."
But FHSU got enough stops and buckets to keep separation from the RiverHawks late. NSU never got closer than seven points in the second half.
"I was a little disappointed in the way we played, overall," Hobson said. "But these kind of games you just take them and move on to the next one.
"I know there’s some distractions. We’ve got a lot of seniors and they might be thinking about other things sometimes. I thought we really took care of business to start, and I thought the rest of the game we just didn’t play as sharp as we could have."
"I could tell by the way we were shooting free throws (24 of 37), it was just a hard day," FHSU sophomore forward Cyndey Bergmann added. "The ball just wasn’t going in for us, so you have to adjust."
Fort Hays moved to 20-6 overall and 11-6 in the MIAA while NSU fell to to 5-19 overall and 3-14 in conference play. The Tigers have now notched a 20-win season in nine straight campaigns, the longest active streak in the MIAA.
Jaden Hobbs led FHSU with 14 points while Kacey Kennett and Whitney Randall added 12 and 11, respectively. Belle Barbieri, Kennett and Bergmann each grabbed seven rebounds.
Bergmann scored nine points, going 7 of 10 from the foul line and making her only field goal attempt. Hobson said the Concordia product impacted the game with hustle plays.
"She just plays with a lot of energy and I think she gave us the spark that we needed at the right time," Hobson said.
The Tigers recognized five players for Senior Day — Kennett, Barbieri, Taylor Rolfs, Lanie Page and Kyleigh Kasper. The senior class has helped the Tigers win 100 games over the last four years.
The Russell native Kasper, a reserve forward, received her first career start for Senior Day and was rewarded with the Tigers’ first two buckets on layups.
"You couldn’t have scripted that any better," Hobson said. "... It was perfect for her. Good way to have her get her first start and score the first four points of the game. I think it means a lot to her."
"Oh my gosh, it was just incredible," Bergmann said of Kasper’s early baskets. "She’s an amazing person and has impacted each one of us in so many ways... To see her go out as a starter and score the first two buckets was amazing."
Northeastern State finished 20 of 55 from the floor and 4 of 12 from 3-point range.
The RiverHawks were led by Maegan Lee’s 16 points.
Fort Hays State sits in a three-way tie for fifth place in the MIAA standings with two games left. The Tigers, ranked eighth in the region, will look to avenge a home loss to Central Oklahoma when they face the Bronchos on Thursday in Edmond, Okla. UCO is ranked 10th in the region.