Top-seeded Tigers use second half burst to run past Mavericks in Region Quarterfinals

Top-seeded Fort Hays State used a strong second half push to move past eighth-seeded Minnesota State, 74-57, and advance to the NCAA Central Regional Semifinals in Hays on Friday night (Mar. 13).

Held scoreless through the first 3:42, FHSU finally got on the board with a fast break layup from Jill Faxon. The Tigers started just 1-of-11 from the field before a three-pointer from Nikola Kacperska at 13:43 put FHSU down four, 9-5.

From there, MSU continued to shoot lights out from the field, going on an 11-2 run with three consecutive three-pointers to take a 20-7 lead near the 12-minute mark. FHSU regrouped with a 6-0 run of its own on back-to-back three-pointers from Chelsea Mason before cutting the lead to two (24-22) on a three-pointer from Faxon (6:18). MSU stretched that lead back to nine, however, over the next three minutes to put FHSU on the ropes once again.

With 2:30 to play, Beth Bohuslavsky used a crossover to drive into the lane and hit a contested layup, sparking the Tigers to a half-closing burst of seven unanswered, sending the team to the locker room down two, 31-29.

FHSU attempted just two free throws in the opening 20 minutes, not reaching the charity stripe until the 2:04 mark. Additionally, the Tigers were a dismal 12-of-40 from the field in the first half while battling a Mavericks team that hit five three-pointers and hit 41.4 percent from the field.

With 14:04 to play, Faxon hit a three-pointer that brought Gross Memorial Coliseum to its feet and put FHSU in the lead for the first time on the day, 41-39. That three-pointer was part of a 12-0 run for the Tigers that lasted from 15:28 until 11:50 and saw FHSU grow its lead to six, 45-39.

A three-pointer from Chelsea Mason with 7:21 gave FHSU a seven-point advantage, 53-46, before MSU called a timeout near the seven-minute mark. Out of the pause, MSU briefly cut the lead to five before Mason went on a 5-0 burst with a jumper and a three-pointer to push the lead to 10.

Another 5-0 run later, capped by a Mason jumper, gave FHSU a 13-point lead with 2:52 to go. FHSU went on to score the final two baskets of the game to produce the final margin of 17 points.

Mason’s 21 points led the Tigers behind four three-pointers and an 8-of-21 effort from the field overall, while Lehman just missed a double-double, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks despite not scoring in the first half.

Bohuslavsky’s return to the court came to the tune of nine points in 12 minutes, while guard Nikola Kacperska dished out five assists to go with seven points.

Minnesota State saw two players reach double figures, as Jamie Bresnahan notched 12 points and seven boards while Aubrey Davis had 10 points and five assists.

Neither team made a living at the free throw line as just 19 total free throws were attempted between the two squads. FHSU finished 9-of-13 from the charity stripe while MSU was 4-of-6.

The first semifinal has been set; with No. 2 seed Emporia State taking on No. 3 seed Pittsburg State on Saturday (March 14) at 5 p.m. The second semifinal, between Fort Hays State and the winner of the Wayne State College and Harding matchup, will take place at 7:30 p.m.

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