No. 9-ranked FHSU women's basketball team looks for 10th straight win

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
FHSU's Sydney Golladay brings the ball up the floor on Monday against Missouri Western.

The No. 9-ranked Fort Hays State women's basketball team will look to push through fatigue and secure their 10th straight win at Rogers State at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Claremore, Okla. 

The Tigers fought through a sub-par outing to pull out a 58-49 win over Missouri Western on Monday and improve to 14-2 on the season. 

"We were just a little sluggish," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. "I think we were a little tired, playing our third game in five days. ... Hopefully when we do need our best game we'll be able to find that."

The Tigers defeated the Hillcats 83-58 on Dec. 20 in Hays, but FHSU will look back to last season's game at Rogers State as reason not to take RSU lightly.  

The Hillcats entered with a 2-13 mark in last year's contest in Claremore but nearly upset the Tigers, who narrowly escaped with a 71-69 win. 

"If there was one good thing about that game it's that it was a reminder for this game coming up," Hobson said. "It there's a good thing that happened out of that game last year it's a learning experience that we can take into Thursday, knowing that they are very capable. They're better than the team we played (Monday), and we're on the road, so we're going to have to step it up and play better than we did, or we'll get upset for sure."

The Hillcats (5-11) have already eclipsed last year's four-win total. RSU went 1-1 last week beating Washburn, 53-50, before falling to Emporia State, 79-56. 

Samariah Thompson leads RSU with 16.6 points per game. 

"They move very well without the ball and they have a couple kids that can come off the screen and shoot it about as well as anybody," Hobson said of the Hillcats. "We tend to have a hard time guarding little curl screens that they really cut hard off of and can catch and shoot. They have a couple good mid-range shooters and they have one really good 3-point shooter. 

"... They play pretty good D and they have some good offensive weapons."

RSU's Vanessa Gajdosova has been a thorn in the Tigers' side. She scored 21 against the Tigers in December and had 18 in last year's game at RSU. 

"We have to figure out a way to stay stuck to her a little bit," Hobson said. 

The Tigers can't afford a slipup as they look to stay atop the MIAA standings with Central Missouri (15-2) and Nebraska-Kearney (14-2). 

Freshman post players ahead of curve

Hobson continues to be encouraged with how quickly freshman post players Olivia Hollenbeck and Jessie Sallach are adapting to their first season of college basketball. 

"I'm happy with their progression," Hobson said. "Probably a little farther along than I anticipated. But when you get young kids that will work hard, it's amazing how much better they can get in a short period of time."

Hollenbeck, a 6-foot-3 Lincoln, Neb., native, is coming off her top two offensive games, scoring 18 against Central Oklahoma and 15 vs. Missouri Western. She averages 8.6 points and 3.1 rebounds. 

"I think Olivia is really scoring the ball well," Hobson said. "She's shooting it well from the line that last three games and overall for the year. I'd like to see her rebounding improve, and it will eventually. I think offensively she's playing with a lot more confidence than she was, finishing better around the basket."

Sallach, a 6-foot-1 Callaway, Neb., native delivered 12 points in the Central Oklahoma win. She's averaging 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. 

"Coming out of her shell a little bit is what she needed to do. She's doing that slowly but surely" Hobson said. "She's the one that is just every game kind of getting a little bit better and doing more things for us."

Golladay steady for Tigers

Guard Sydney Golladay is the only freshman to have started all 16 games for the Tigers this year. 

Golladay, a product of Fremont, Neb., hasn't put up big stats (4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists) but Hobson said she's been reliable on both ends of the floor. 

"She's pretty steady. She takes care of the ball. Her assist to turnover ratio is pretty good for a freshman," he said. "She defends the ball usually coming up the floor, taking a lot of energy. She just does a lot of little things. She's kind of like Cydney Bergmann only at the guard sport. 

"She doesn't make a lot of mistakes. She's just a good kid to have out there."