WBB: No. 9 Lindenwood Stuns No. 3 FHSU in MIAA Championship


For the second time in four years, the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team landed in the MIAA championship round. After falling to Emporia State in the 2015 title match, the No. 3 seeded Tigers struggled throughout the contest against the No. 9 seeded Lindenwood Lions, as LU took the conference title 58-51. Before this season, no team greater than a six seed had won the MIAA Tournament. It is only the second time the Tigers have lost to Lindenwood in program history, falling to 6-2 all-time.

Game Recap

Both teams entered the title round playing some of their best basketball of the season. Lindenwood landed in the title game with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Tigers were on the winning side in 13 of their past 14 contests.

An early 13-0 run by the Tigers helped FHSU stroll out to a 15-2 lead. Lindenwood began 1-for-8 from the field and went nearly seven minutes without a field goal. After one, Fort Hays held a commanding 19-9 advantage.

As part of an 8-0 run, the Lions pulled within five early in the second quarter, at 19-14. Moments later, another burst by Lindenwood brought the deficit to one. The Tigers responded with a 9-0 spurt to extend the lead to 30-20. Lindenwood closed the half on a 7-0 run, but FHSU went into halftime with a 30-27 lead.

The Lions shot 39.3% in the opening half while FHSU was held to 34.3%, including 1-of-11 from three-point range. Fort Hays had a 22-18 rebounding edge, with nine being on the offensive end. Additionally, the Tigers had six assists and forced six turnovers.

Belle Barbieri led FHSU with seven points and five rebounds off the bench. Kacey Kennett added six points, while Tatyana Legette had six points and five rebounds.

Gabby Walker guided the Lions with 11 points. Lindsay Medlen had eight points and three rebounds, while Charisse Williams added four points.

The second half started with a 6-2 burst by the Tigers. With under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, FHSU held a 36-29 advantage. Lindenwood answered with a 9-1 run to take its first lead of the game, at 38-37, near the end of the quarter. Fort Hays regained the lead in the closing seconds of the quarter and went into the fourth with a 40-38 advantage.

The Lions repossessed the lead with an 8-0 run to start the quarter. FHSU was held scoreless for the first five minutes of the quarter. With under five minutes to play, Lindenwood took a 46-42 lead. In an offensive struggle, the Tigers cut the deficit to two, at 46-44, with two minutes remaining.

Shortly after, the Lions responded with a three, but FHSU answered with a jumper. With a minute to play, Lindenwood led 49-46. On the following plays, teams traded three-pointers and the Lions held a 52-49 advantage with under 30 seconds to play. Lindenwood went 6-for-6 on free throws down the stretch and secured the conference title with a 58-51 victory.

By the Numbers

The Lions shot 38.5% on the afternoon while holding the Tigers to 29.7%, including 2-for-23 beyond the arc. FHSU outrebounded Lindenwood 41-38, hit 11-of-12 free throws, and forced 13 turnovers, but struggled throughout the second half and allowed 29 bench points to the Lions.

For Fort Hays, Carly Heim played all 40 minutes and led the Tigers with 14 points and seven rebounds. Kennett had eight points and seven rebounds, while Emma Stroyan finished with eight points and five rebounds. Barbieri had seven points and nine rebounds off the bench while Legette added six points and six rebounds.

For Lindenwood, Walker scored a game-high 17 points and hauled in four rebounds. Medlen followed with 14 points and five rebounds, while Kallie Bildner had eight points and four rebounds. Additionally, Williams added five points, four rebounds, and four assists.  

Looking Ahead

FHSU is currently 25-6 on the season. The Tigers will wait for the Division II Selection Committee to announce the seedings for the National Tournament later tonight.

Meanwhile, Lindenwood secures a spot in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 20-12. Tournament play for the NCAA Central Regional begins on Friday, March 9.

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