Fort Hays State women's basketball falls by a point to Emporia State, takes first loss

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News

A lukewarm shooting night ended with a missed buzzer-beater for the Fort Hays State women on Saturday against No. 11 Emporia State at Gross Memorial Coliseum. 

But it was issues in other facets that were more responsible for the Tigers’ 62-61 loss,  FHSU coach Tony Hobson said.

The Tigers rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead with 1:16 left, but Karsen Schultz's lay-up off an offensive rebound put the Hornets back in front. 

ESU then escaped after Whitney Randall’s free-throw line jumper rattled out as time expired. 

FHSU (5-1) went 25 of 63 from the field, 4 of 19 from 3-point range and 7 of 13 from the foul line. The Tigers committed 18 turnovers. 

“We could have won that game easily (despite the shooting struggles) just by doing three of the most basic things in basketball: Make your free throws, don’t give up offensive rebounds and take care of the ball,” Hobson said. "I thought we lost that game, I’m not sure we were beaten. To me there’s a totally different feel when you play sharp and you execute and the other team just beats you. I can almost live with that. I have a hard time when it’s us making mistakes that get us beat.”

The Tigers raced out to a 14-2 lead but the Hornets crept within five at the end of the first quarter and led 33-30 at the break. 

The Hornets (3-1) almost had the Tigers put away midway through the fourth quarter, pushing their lead to nine on a Tre’Zure Jobe 3-pointer with 4:38 left. 

FHSU, fueled in part by steals from freshmen Sydney Golladay and Katie Wagner, scored six points in 49 seconds to get within three. The Tigers’ capped off a 10-0 run with a jumper from Jaden Hobbs, putting Fort Hays in front by a point. 

FHSU freshman Sydney Golladay looks to pass during Saturday's game vs. Emporia State.
FHSU's Whitney Randall drives inside but is met by Emporia State's Kali Martin  during Saturday's game at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
FHSU's Jaden Hobbs looks to pass inside against Emporia State on Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

“That was totally an effort thing,” Hobbs said of FHSU’s late push. “Coach talked to us about it earlier; the more effort you put in, it seems the game kind of goes your way a little bit, the harder you play. 

“Once we kind of got a little bit of a motor going, we got a few steals, a couple open shots, and that’s what got us back into the game. We just have to learn how to play with that effort for 40 minutes and not just a little spurt like that."

With FHSU protecting a one-point lead, Hobbs came up with a steal with 55 seconds left, but the Tigers turned it over just a few seconds later. 

Schultz grabbed a rebound off Kali Martin’s missed 3-pointer and the putback gave ESU a one-point lead with 21 seconds remaining. 

After Hobbs’ shot was blocked out of bounds with 1.5 seconds left, the Hornets lost track of Randall on the inbounds play but the shot rimmed out. 

“We had as good a shot as you could have asked for,” Hobson said. “We had a free throw to win it, basically, and it just didn’t go in. 

"We did a lot of things good making that comeback, we just can’t afford to get that far behind to begin with.”

Hobbs led FHSU with 16 points and six assists. She was 4 of 9 from 3-point range while the rest of the team combined to go 0 of 10 from 3. 

“It seemed like they were rushing them,” Hobson said. “A couple times we didn’t even look at the basket, I don't think, before we shot it. We just have to recognize what a good shot is. If you’re not comfortable, your feet aren’t correct, then you need to just pass on that shot and get a better one.”

The Tigers were without senior guard Madison Mittie because of COVID-19 protocols. Hobson said FHSU missed Mittie’s outside shooting and defense. 

“When you take your first guard off the bench out of the rotation, you’re naturally going to miss her,” Hobson said. 

Randall finished with 12 points while Wagner added 11 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double. 

Jobe led Emporia State with 22 points. The sophomore guard averages an MIAA-best 23 points a game. 

“She made probably three or four tough shots right at the end of the clock,” Hobbs said. “She’s very shifty. She’s going to get her shot off. She can deceive you and make you think she’s going to pull up and just dribble around you. Props to her, she had a good game.”

The Tigers are scheduled to play at 6-0 Central Missouri at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Warrensburg. 

“Just hoping we will be a little bit better with the ball and stronger our next time out,” Hobson said.