Big third quarter propels Fort Hays State women's basketball past Missouri Southern

FHSU Sports Information
FHSU's Madison Mittie puts up a 3 last week against Northwest Missouri. The Tigers won 70-49 at Missouri Southern on Thursday.

JOPLIN, Mo. - After a back-and-forth battle in the first half, the Fort Hays State women's basketball team ran away with a 70-49 road win over Missouri Southern Thursday (Jan. 21). The Lions (4-7, 4-7 MIAA) hung around for much of the first half, but a dominant third quarter was more than enough for the Tigers (8-2, 8-2 MIAA) to take the victory.

It was the sixth time this season the Tigers have won by 20 or more points, the most in the MIAA. No other school has more than four 20-plus point wins.

The lead changed hands five times in the first half alongside four ties. Fort Hays State struggled to find the bottom of the net early on, missing its first five shots. But after scoring the first points of the game, Missouri Southern managed just those two points over the first six minutes. The Tigers finally hit a field goal at the 6:08 mark on a layup from Cydney Bergmann, sparking a 7-0 run.

Missouri Southern momentarily regained the lead late in the quarter before Jaden Hobbs scored five points in the final 21 seconds to give FHSU a 19-15 lead.

The Lions opened the second quarter with a 9-2 run to go back in front by three, 24-21. Missouri Southern held the Tigers without a field goal for over seven minutes in the second quarter, but the Lions were unable to stretch the lead past three. FHSU forced five turnovers over the stretch while hitting 6-of-6 from the line to keep things within reach.

Hobbs, Whitney Randall and Jessie Sallach all buried a pair of free throws to help the Tigers tie things up at 25 before a 3-pointer from Madison Mittie swung the momentum of the game. The senior's bucket at the 2:30 mark, FHSU's first basket of the second quarter, pushed the Tigers in front for good.

After closing the half on a 7-1 run, FHSU carried a 32-26 lead into the locker room. The Tigers continued to dominate out of the break, outscoring the Lions 24-9 in the third period. Fort Hays State held MSSU to just 2-of-10 shooting and forced four turnovers while hitting six field goals and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe on the other end.

Sallach hit a pair of midrange jumpers in the middle of the run before Randall buried a 3-pointer, pushing the advantage to 45-32. The Tigers held MSSU to just one field goal over the final five minutes of the third quarter, allowing the Tigers to stretch their lead to 21 on another triple from Mittie.

The Tigers led by as many as 27 late in the game following a 3-pointer from Lauryn Reither before the Lions scored the final six points of the game.

Fort Hays State's biggest advantage came at the free-throw line, with the Tigers outscoring the Lions 26-7 Fort Hays State hit 81.3 percent from the line (26-of-32) while MSSU hit just 43.8 percent from the charity stripe (7-of-16).

The Tigers hit 6-of-13 from behind the arc (46.2 percent) while holding the Lions to just 20 percent from deep (4-of-20). FHSU had a big advantage in rebounds, 47-38.

The Tiger defense forced 16 turnovers thanks to nine steals while blocking four shots.

Hobbs led the Tigers with 16 points after hitting two 3-pointers and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. The senior added a team-high seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Bergmann had 13 points thanks to a 7-for-8 day from the charity stripe.

Randall totaled 11 points and seven rebounds while hitting all six of her free throws. Katie Wagner led the team with nine rebounds alongside seven points.

Sallach scored nine points while Mittie totaled seven points, three rebounds, one steal and one block.

The Tigers continue their road trip Saturday (Jan. 23) when they head to Pittsburg, Kan. to battle the Gorillas of Pittsburg State. First tip is set for 1:30 p.m.