With Jennies on deck, Tigers take care of Lincoln, 74-43

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
Fort Hays State senior Madison Mittie, is accompanied by her mother, Shanna, and her father, Jeff, during Thursday's night senior recognition.
Jaden Hobbs shoots a jumper during Thursday's win over Lincoln.
Fort Hays State's Whitney Randall drives to the basket on Thursday against Lincoln.

With a showdown against Central Missouri looming, the No. 8-ranked Fort Hays State women's basketball team avoided peeking ahead.

Fort Hays had no trouble dispatching of one-win Lincoln on Thursday, rolling to a 74-43 win at Gross Memorial Coliseum. 

The Tigers were set for a battle with UCM on Saturday that will likely decide the MIAA title. The Tigers and No. 16 Jennies were sitting atop the conference standings with 17-2 records heading into the game. 

FHSU first handled its business against Lincoln, breaking away with a 23-4 second quarter and opening up a 37-point advantage early in the third frame.

"We took it really seriously. We prepared. We knew if we didn't win this game, then there probably wouldn't be a good chance of us winning the conference," FHSU senior guard Madison Mittie said. "Every game matters at this point."

Lincoln (1-18) went just 25% from the field (16 of 64) and committed 18 turnovers. FHSU blocked 11 Blue Tiger shots. 

"I thought we came out ready to play, didn't overlook them and did what we needed to do," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. "Just really kind of buckled down and guarded them the second quarter and got out to a big lead, and then just kind of cruised."

The Tigers held their senior night festivities Thursday for Madison Mittie, who was the lone senior recognized. Fellow seniors Jaden Hobbs and Whitney Randall are planning on returning to the program next year, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to NCAA winter athletes because of the pandemic. 

Senior night was pushed up to Thursday so Mittie's father, Kansas State women's basketball coach Jeff Mittie, would be able to attend. 

"It's awesome," Madison Mittie said. "Since I was the only senior they were really good about cooperating with me and figuring out when my dad could be here. I'm glad he could make it out tonight, him and my mom (Shanna)."

Mittie went 0 for 6 from the floor but made four steals, dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds. 

"She didn't score ... but she did everything else," Hobson said. "I told her those (shots) will go in Saturday when we really need them."

Hobbs and Randall each scored a game-high 16 points. Hobbs added 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks, while Randall had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. 

Olivia Hollenbeck scored 11 points and had a game-high eight rebounds while blocking four shots. Katie Wagner chipped in 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Jessie Sallach finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Sydney Golladay had 8 points, 3 assists and a steal.

"I thought we just got some good play from about everybody, and it was a good night for us," Hobson said. 

Fort Hays can now shift its attention to Central Missouri, which knocked Nebraska-Kearney out of a three-way tie for first place with a 70-66 win at UNK on Thursday. 

Heading into Saturday's game, the Tigers had won 12 straight since taking a 79-72 loss to UCM back on Jan. 7. The Jennies entered on an 11-game win streak.