Fort Hays State women survive sluggish outing vs. Missouri Western

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
Fort Hays State's Whitney Randall makes a layup during Monday night's game vs. Missouri Western at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Fort Hays State coach Tony Hobson felt his Tigers were missing the pep in their step from the get-go on Monday against Missouri Western. 

The sluggish Tiger women managed just 20 points in the first half, struggled to solve the Western zone and got beat badly on the boards by the three-win Griffons. 

FHSU finally kicked into gear long enough in the third quarter to gain separation on the way to a 58-49 victory at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

The win officially moved the Tigers into a tie atop the MIAA standings with Nebraska-Kearney and Central Missouri at 14-2, but Hobson wasn't in a celebratory mood. 

"I'm really disappointed in just our state of mind to start the game," Hobson said. "Didn't think we acted like we were too enthusiastic to play, and that's disappointing when you're at home. Just a few months ago, we were just hoping to get to play a game. And now we get a chance to play a game and we're not ready to go. It wasn't one or two people it was pretty much down the line. 

"Just a pretty shabby exhibition."

The Griffons (3-11) snatched a whopping 22 offensive rebounds and won the overall battle on the boards, 49-38. 

"They outrebounded us by (11) just because they played harder than us," Hobson said. "Played with more enthusiasm. They'd been on a bus for a good part of the day. A pretty poor showing by our squad."

The Tigers finished just 18 of 55 from the field and committed 17 turnovers. The 58 points were a season-low for FHSU.

"Honestly their zone really surprised me," FHSU senior forward Whitney Randall said. "They played the skip pass really well. More often than not you can skip the ball around because they can't get out on the 3-point line, but this team was really good at just watching the pass and getting there as the ball got there. 

"They're really just long. They have long arms. They just really get out in the lanes and it was hard to get the pass through."

Hobson said the Tigers weren't aggressive enough in attacking the zone when they got it to the high post. 

"... The thing you can't do is just stand there with the ball above your head, wanting to pass it and have them come trap you," he said. "They were just running and trapping us and slowing us down and keeping us from getting out of there."

Fort Hays State led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter and led 20-16 at halftime. The Tigers were just 7 of 27 from the field in the first half while was Western 6 of 30.

"It just looked like we had on mud shoes, snow shoes, walking in water — however you want to put it," Hobson said. "We were pretty sluggish. You can say, 'Well, we're a little tired.' (Western is) in the same boat. We've just got to be able to play through that."

Randall helped kickstart the Tigers in the third quarter, scoring 14 of her game-high 23 points in the frame to help FHSU take 46-34 lead into the fourth. 

"(Hobson) really got on to us at halftime, and we really needed to hear that, I think," Randall said. "... I think that really kind of pushed us. We were going to beat if we didn't step it up the second half, especially the third quarter."

"Whitney really sparked us that third quarter," Hobson said. "... She just played with a lot of energy second half. I thought the first half she was kind of like several of us and didn't have a lot of get-up and go. But second half, especially the third quarter, she really kind of brought us out of it."

The Griffons got it down to seven after a 3-pointer from Kyra Hogan with 7:40 left. The Tigers opened up a 13-point lead on a bucket from Olivia Hollenbeck with 4:30 left and the Griffons never got closer than nine the rest of the way. 

Randall finished 9 of 17 from the field and 3 of 8 from 3-point range. 

Hollenbeck added 15 points, going 4 of 7 from the field and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line. Senior standout Jaden Hobbs was held to five points on 1-of-7 shooting. 

Asia McCoy led Western with nine points and 12 rebounds. 

A 16-of-17 showing at the free throw line helped the Tigers' cause. 

The Tigers missed the energy and rebounding ability of junior forward Cydney Bergmann, who held out of the game because of concussion protocols. Hobson said Bergmann is on track to return Thursday when the Tigers play at Rogers State (5-11). FHSU will then play at Northeastern State (4-12) on Saturday. 

"Hopefully I leave this team I had tonight here, and the team that we beat Kearney with and Central Oklahoma, hopefully they're the ones that get on the bus and we take to Oklahoma," Hobson said.