Fort Hays State women's basketball moves to 5-0 with 25-point win over Rogers State

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
Jaden Hobbs, right, dished out 11 assists in the Tigers' 83-58 win over Rogers State on Sunday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Fort Hays State's Katie Wagner drives inside during Sunday's game vs. Rogers State at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Fort Hays State's Olivia Hollenbeck attempts a shot inside as Rogers State's Shay Stone defends during Sunday's game at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

After being the aggressor offensively in the previous two games, Jaden Hobbs was the facilitator for the Fort Hays State women on Sunday against Rogers State.

Hobbs dished out 11 assists and eleven different Tigers entered the scoring column as FHSU went into the holiday break with an 83-58 win, moving to 5-0. 

Hobbs went for 20 points against Northeastern State on Friday after scoring 19 points on Tuesday at Central Oklahoma. 

She reached double figures with 11 points on Sunday but looked more content to set the table for her teammates.

"I think that's why you see such balanced scoring," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said of Hobbs, who notched the most assists for a Tiger since Meshia Mason had 11 against Nebraska-Kearney in 2006. "She gave everybody a couple layups. 

"I noticed she wasn't looking to shoot it quite as much as normal, for whatever reason. She's just a good team player, great passer." 

Hobbs, who had just one turnover, was joined in double figures by three Tiger freshmen. Katie Wagner scored a team-high 13 points while Olivia Hollenbeck and Jessie Sallach each had career highs with 10 apiece. 

"Jaden's helped me a lot, just with confidence mainly," Wagner said. "She's like, 'You got this!' Just a big boost. It's good to have her as a point guard because she just gives you that confidence that you need, and she's a great passer, so you know that Jaden's going to make it happen for you."

The Tigers, playing in their fourth game in eight days, were boosted by their bench, which supplied 39 points. 

"A game like today, when fatigue I thought set in a little earlier than normal — we've had a long 10, 11 days — I thought our bench really came through and lifted us up," Hobson said.

Wagner was 6 of 11 from the floor in the second double-digit game of her young college career. The Maize South product added four assists, three rebounds and a steal.  

"She battles so hard for every rebound and plays with such a motor; good things happen to those people usually, especially when you're a good athlete like she is," Hobson said.

Wagner said it was fun to watch everyone contribute on Sunday. 

"We're a big family," Wagner said. "We've all been practicing so much because of COVID and everything. We've all been working super hard waiting for our shot. I just think that when everyone is able to get in and show what they can do, it's awesome. We have that energy and we support each other so much." 

The Hillcats (1-6) were within a point late in the first quarter before a Wagner 3 started a 14-0 FHSU run. Fort Hays led 44-29 at the break.

RSU got it down to nine early in the third frame but a 9-2 FHSU spurt stretched the advantage to 16 and the Hillcats never got closer than 12 the rest of the way. 

FHSU had a 14-point lead after three quarters before opening the fourth on a 12-2 run that included two Allison McFarren 3-pointers. 

It was a solid showing for FHSU's two freshmen post players in Hollenbeck and Sallach. 

"I thought they both were fine against a pretty good opponent," Hobson said. "They've both got a long ways to come, and that's what exciting. They're holding their own and they're just learning. They're going to get so much better because they're both hard workers."

Hobson was also encouraged by the play of freshman guard Emma Ruddle, a McPherson product who played 11 minutes. She had two points and grabbed five rebounds. 

"Emma is going to be good player for us. I'm not sure she believes that sometimes," he said. "Sometimes she doesn't play with as much confidence as she needs to, but that's kind of typical (for young players). She holds back a little bit sometimes and that sometimes leads to mistakes, but she's going to be a good player. I liked what I saw out of her today."

Rogers State's Vanessa Gajdosova scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the first half after entering the game with a season-high of five points. 

"She just moves so well without the ball and she has a good intermediate range pull-up," Hobson said. "Probably needed to play her just a little different, and we tried to in the second half and play the drive instead of staying up on her on the 3-point line. I thought we did better."

The Tigers went through a couple cold shooting spells, but finished 44.4% from the floor (32 of 72). They went 10 for 27  from behind the arc. Rogers State finished 24 of 56 from the floor. 

Cydney Bergmann scored nine points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for FHSU while Whitney Randall added nine points and pulled down six boards. Hollenbeck blocked five shots.

The Tigers outrebounded the Hillcats 44-33. 

After the break, Fort Hays will face Emporia State on Jan. 2 at home. 

The Tigers have won its last four games by 20 points or more. 

Hobson credited his team for handling adversity after a delay to the start of the season because of COVID-19 protocols. 

"It would have been easy to hang your head and just be down about everything," Hobson said. "This group has done a great job of keeping excited, and when they did play, they really took advantage of it."