BY TRISTAN SASSE
In a contest between two MIAA foes, the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team hosted the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers. On Saturday, the teams were evenly matched record-wise, but it was the Lopers who set the tone early and often. UNK would come away with a dominant 78-64 victory over the Tigers. It was the first home loss for Fort Hays this season, falling to 8-1.
Neither team was able to take a commanding lead in the early going, and the first quarter was close throughout. Midway through the quarter, it was tied at 10, with the largest lead for either team being three. The MIAA rivals continued to trade baskets and the Lopers ended the first quarter with a slight advantage, at 20-18. UNK shot 60% and FHSU was shooting 50% after one.
Nebraska-Kearney began the second quarter on an 11-2 run and maintained their lead throughout the quarter. With under four minutes until halftime, the Lopers led 33-26. Behind 64% shooting, UNK went into halftime with a 43-32 advantage.
Leading the Lopers in the first half was McKenzie Brown, with 17 points. Michaela Berry added seven points and Jaymie Bernbeck had six points.
Additionally, the Tigers shot 45.5% in the opening half, but 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. FHSU won the rebounding battle 15-13, including seven on the offensive end. Both teams had five assists and four turnovers in the opening half.
Leading Fort Hays, was newcomer Lanie Page with eight points, while Carly Heim contributed with seven points and three rebounds.
To begin the second half, FHSU struggled from the field and the Lopers took a 16 point lead. UNK pulled ahead by as many as 17, but the Tigers cut the deficit to 8, after a 9-0 run. Nebraska-Kearney responded with a run of their own and went into the final quarter leading 60-45.
UNK seemed to have an answer for every Tiger basket in the final period. Fort Hays came within 12 but was never able to get within striking distance. When it was all said and done, the Lopers led by as many as 19 points before defeating the Tigers at home, 78-64.
By the Numbers
It was the first time in 14 meetings the Lopers defeated Fort Hays. UNK shot 54.9% overall, including 11-of-16 (68.8%) from three-point range. The Lopers out-rebounded FHSU 35-31, but had more turnovers (12) than assists (11).
For Nebraska-Kearney, Brown had a game-high 28 points, four rebounds, and two steals. Barry added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jenna Gillespie had 12 points and three assists.
Meanwhile, the Tigers shot 40%, but 3-of-17 from beyond the arc. FHSU had 16 bench points, seven steals, and only six turnovers, but never led by more than two.
Tatyana Legette led Fort Hays with 20 points and five assists. Heim added 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Additionally, Kacey Kennett finished with eight points and three steals.
Up next, FHSU (12-4 overall, 3-4 in MIAA) will continue their homestand against Missouri Western (10-6, 3-4) on Thursday. Meanwhile, UNK (12-3, 4-3) will return home to host Northwest Missouri State (1-14, 0-7).