Randall, Hobbs lead Fort Hays State women past Bearcats

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
Jaden Hobbs hits a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the first half against Northwest Missouri. The Tigers won 74-49.

The Fort Hays State women’s basketball team hit Northwest Missouri with a quick 11-0 run in the opening minutes and never let the Bearcats into the game, posting a 74-49 win on Thursday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The Tigers finished 25 of 52 from the field, 9 of 20 from 3-point range and 15 of 18 from the foul line. 

“We dictated the tempo like crazy in that game and made them work hard to get the ball up the floor,” Fort Hays State coach Tony Hobson said. “And then in the open court, we pushed it well at them and really just kind of got the ball where it needed to go. We got some good shots out of it, and it helps when you shoot the ball better from the 3.

“We just kind of had it clicking.”

FHSU senior forward Whitney Randall led Fort Hays State with 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while junior guard Jaden Hobbs scored 17 points while dishing out six assists. 

Randall's 10 boards were a season high. 

“(Hobson) puts an emphasis on going to the glass every possession," Randall said. "If you’re tired, he’ll sub you out, but while you’re in, go to the glass every time."

Hobbs continued her torrid shooting, hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, including a buzzer-beater that gave the Tigers a 44-24 lead at that break. The Tigers led 61-35 heading into the fourth. 

Hobson said it was arguably the best game of the season for Randall, who went 4 of 7 from the field, 7 of 8 from the foul line and 3 of 4 from 3-point range. 

Hobbs finished 5 of 7 from behind the arc. She's 32 of 57 from 3 on the season for 56%. 

“I feel like Jaden’s going to be like that this whole season. She takes great shots,” Randall said of her fellow Alva, Okla., native. “She knows when to shoot it and she can shoot it with somebody just right in her face.”

The big lead helped Fort Hays (7-2) give their bench a solid workload, with every player logging at least seven minutes. 

Hobson said it's always beneficial to give his reserves more minutes when the opportunity presents itself. 

“What I tell them is the reason they’re not playing is not because they’re not a good player. I don’t recruit players who aren’t good," he said. "These are good players, they just need an opportunity."

Sophomore guard Lauryn Reither was among the bench players who stood out to Hobson on Thursday. 

“Lauryn’s a good, solid point guard," Hobson said. "She needs more time, but she’s playing behind Jaden Hobbs and she might be the best point guard in the country, who knows? Sometimes (Reither's) minutes are limited, but she took advantage of it (Thursday); Carly (Thompson) did (too). Emma (Ruddle) got back into the mix after being out with COVID. We had to watch her minutes a little bit, and we did that. It was good to have Maddie (Mittie) back; I thought she did a really good job of the defensive end and had a couple steals. 

“It’s nice to see our bench get in there, and it wasn’t slop time. It looked good, they executed their offense and defensively they were really sound.”

After combining for 29 points this past Saturday at Lincoln, FHSU freshman post players Olivia Hollenbeck and Jessie Sallach followed it up with solid outings on Thursday. Hollenbeck scored 12 points, while Sallach added eight off the bench. 

Northwest (3-4) was held to just 33% (17 of 51) from the floor. Mia Stillman was the only Bearcat in double figures with 10. 

The Tigers were set to play Missouri Western Saturday at home but the game was postponed because of COVID-19 protocols involving the Griffons.