No. 5 Tigers match MIAA win record with 70-47 victory over Bearcats

FHSU Sports Information
Fort Hays' Whitney Randall dribbles the ball against Northwest Missouri State Saturday at Bearcat Arena.

MARYVILLE, Mo. - The No. 5 Fort Hays State women's basketball team secured sole possession of the 2021 MIAA regular season championship with Saturday's 70-47 win at Northwest Missouri State (Feb. 27). The Tigers wrap up the regular season 20-2 overall and 20-2 in MIAA play, tied for the most conference wins by a league school in MIAA history.

Fort Hays State used two big runs to take complete control in the first half. The Tigers scored the first 14 points of the game, holding the Bearcats scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Northwest (7-15, 7-15 MIAA) closed within seven late in the first quarter before Olivia Hollenbeck hit a layup before the buzzer sounded, giving the Tigers a 19-10 lead after 10 minutes.

The teams traded buckets early in the second quarter before FHSU went on its biggest run of the season, scoring the next 17 points to take a commanding 38-13 lead. The Tigers hit 6-of-7 from the floor during that stretch while forcing three Bearcat turnovers and six consecutive missed shots.

Jaden Hobbs scored eight points during that stretch, including a 3-pointer at the 5:11 mark of the second quarter that put the senior over 1,000 points for her collegiate basketball career.

Northwest Missouri State scored six points late in the second quarter, making the halftime score 42-19 in favor of the Tigers.

Freshmen took care of business for the Tigers in the third quarter, with Jessie Sallach, Emma Ruddle, Katie Wagner and Hollenbeck combining to score 16 of FHSU's 18 points. A 3-pointer from Wagner gave the Tigers a 33-point advantage late in the third quarter, 60-27, four points shy of their largest lead in a game this season.

Northwest scored 11 consecutive points late in the game, but the Tigers had done more than enough early to seal the win.

Fort Hays State hit 46.2 percent from the floor (24-of-52), eclipsing 45 percent for the 10th time this season. The Tiger defense held Northwest to a shooting percentage of 29.8 percent, the fourth time they've held an opponent below 30 percent.

The Tigers dominated on the boards, outrebounding Northwest 39-27. FHSU forced 11 turnovers, scoring 13 points off those Bearcat miscues.

Hobbs finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds, recording her fourth double-double of the season.

Hollenbeck and Sallach both scored a game-high 14 points. Each also added four rebounds and one block. Whitney Randall added eight points and nine rebounds, with Ruddle contributing eight points and one steal.

The Tigers have now won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons. It is far and away the longest active streak in the MIAA, with the next closest school doing so in four-straight seasons. FHSU had eight 20-win seasons over the first 42 years of the program before the current streak began in 2011-12.

The win is FHSU's 15th consecutive victory, tied for the fourth longest streak in program history.

Fort Hays State will return to Gross Memorial Coliseum for at least one more game Wednesday (March 3) when the Tigers host Missouri Southern in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Championship Tournament, presented by Citizens Bank & Trust. First tip between the Tigers and Lions is set for 6 p.m.

If the Tigers were to win on Wednesday, they would then host the semifinal and championship rounds of the tournament on Saturday and Sunday, respectively (March 6-7). Game times for those dates are TBD.

FHSU season ticket holders can purchase tickets for Wednesday's game beginning at 8 a.m. Monday (March 1) with tickets available to the general public starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday (March 2). Ticket prices are $15 for lower level reserved seats and $10 for upper level general admission seats. Capacity will remain capped at 25 percent for the duration of the tournament.