Women’s basketball goes 1-1 during weekend

By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A strong effort on the offensive end and suffocating defense on the other end of the floor helped the third-ranked Fort Hays State women’s basketball team defeat Sioux Falls Saturday afternoon (Nov. 12) on the final day of the Courtyard Sioux Falls Tip-Off Classic, 66-50. The Tigers (2-2) had four players score in double figures and hit 50 percent from the floor (28-of-56) while limiting the Cougars (0-2) to 36 percent shooting (18-of-50) and forcing 17 USF turnovers.

Coming back from an injury in the preseason, Olivia Hollenbeck scored a combined 15 points over the first three games before going off for 21 points in Saturday’s victory. The forward hit 8-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe, using several strong post moves to create easy layups in the paint.

Katie Wagner shook off an off day Friday (four points, six rebounds) to record her third double-double of the season. The Maize, Kan. guard tallied 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting while leading the game with 11 rebounds.

Sioux Falls scored the first six points of the contest, holding the Tigers without a point for more than three minutes. But Fort Hays State quickly recovered, scoring six in a row to tie things up before a Brooke Loewe jumper put the Tigers in front for good with more than four minutes to play in the first quarter. FHSU led by as many as six late in the period before a Cougar triple at the buzzer made the score 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Fort Hays State started to pull away early in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 12 thanks to an 11-2 run. The Tigers hit 4-of-5 from the floor during the rally while limiting the Cougars to 1-of-6 shooting. But USF fought back, hitting six of their next eight shots to pull within four late in the half. An Emma Ruddle baseline jumper in the waning seconds of the first half helped the Tigers take a six-point lead into the locker room, 35-29.

The teams traded buckets over the first five minutes of the second half, with USF closing within four before another big Tiger run pushed the lead back to double figures for the duration of the game. Leading 40-36 at the midway point of the third, Wagner hit back-to-back buckets to double the lead. Loewe dropped in a floating jumper on the next possession before Kate Dilsaver drilled a triple from the left wing to push the lead to 13, prompting a Cougar timeout. The Tigers then scored the final seven points of the quarter, leading by as many as 18 following a Ruddle 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds remaining in the frame.

Sioux Falls scored the first eight points in the final frame to close within 10, but Hollenbeck broke up the run with a layup with 5:25 to go in the game. 3-pointers from Whitney Brown and Sydney Golladay down the stretch helped the Tigers fend off the Cougar run and secure the win.

Loewe and Brown both scored 10 points, with Loewe dishing out a team-high six assists while leading the team with three steals. Brecli Honner led the Cougars with 15 points and seven rebounds.

The Tigers dominated on the boards, outrebounding USF 35-25. Fort Hays State also had significant advantages in points in the paint, 38-18, points off turnovers, 19-13, points in transition, 14-0, and points off the bench, 39-16.

After opening the year with four games on the road, Fort Hays State will head back to Gross Memorial Coliseum for a five-game home stand. The Tigers will make their home debut next weekend (Nov. 18-19) against No. 15 Minnesota State on Friday (6 p.m.) and Colorado Mesa on Saturday (3 p.m.).

Friday

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Third-ranked Fort Hays State women’s basketball hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter and led by as many as 11 in the first half before Augustana stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Tigers by 12 points after the break to win by three Friday evening (Nov. 11) in the opener of the Courtyard Sioux Falls Tip-Off Classic, 62-59. The Tigers (1-2) hit 50 percent from the floor in the first quarter and better than 40 percent in the fourth quarter, but a field-goal percentage of 25 percent across the second and third quarters gave the Vikings (1-0) the chance to fight in front.

True freshmen Brooke Loewe and Ellie Stearns helped the Tigers take control in the first quarter, with each scoring six of FHSU’s 19 points. Loewe buried both of her attempts from behind the arc while Stearns hit one triple before converting on a 3-point play. The Tiger defense poked away four steals while holding Augustana to 28.6 percent shooting in the opening period, giving FHSU a 19-12 advantage after 10 minutes.

After Kate Dilsaver opened the second quarter with a bucket to build the lead to nine, the Vikings went on an 8-0 run to close within one, 21-20. FHSU broke out of the funk midway through the period, scoring 10 in a row to pull in front by double digits. Sydney Golladay opened the run with a jumper before Jessie Sallach hit off a pass from Stearns. Megan Earney followed with a 3-pointer on the following possession after another assist from Stearns before free throws padded the lead to 11.

Augustana hit the final bucket before halftime, closing within 31-22, before limiting the Tigers to 21.4 percent shooting in the third quarter and countering with a 46.7 percent shooting effort to close within one possession. The Tigers led by two entering the final quarter, 41-39, but Augustana scored the first seven points of the final frame to take the lead for the first time all afternoon.

Another Loewe 3-pointer thwarted the Viking run and a jumper from Stearns tied things up at 46 with just under six minutes to play, but Augustana responded with a triple of their own on the very next possession to take the lead for good. FHSU stayed within one possession until the two-minute mark when another Viking 3-pointer and a layup off a turnover gave Augustana a seven-point lead. Whitney Brown scored five points down the stretch for the Tigers to make it a one possession game, but her final points came with just one-tenth of a second remaining on the clock.

Brown led the Tigers with 12 points after hitting a trio of 3-pointers, with Loewe also adding three triples and nine points. Olivia Hollenbeck scored nine points, all in the second half, while adding five rebounds and two blocks. Michaela Jewett led the Vikings with 23 points on five 3-pointers.

The Tigers hit 35.7 percent from the floor for the game (20-of-56), just below Augustana’s output of 38.3 percent (23-of-60). FHSU hit eight from behind the arc and only missed one free throw, going 11-for-12 from the stripe. The Tigers outscored Augustana off the bench, 28-8.

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