By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
EMPORIA, Kan. – Twenty points from Whitney Randall, another double-double from Katie Wagner and solid defense all afternoon helped the top-ranked Fort Hays State women’s basketball team grind out a 70-65 win over Emporia State Saturday afternoon (Dec. 4). The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Tigers inside White Auditorium and is their first road win over ESU since 2015.
The Tigers, now 7-0 for just the seventh time in school history, got off to a bit of a slow start, hitting just two of their first 11 shots from the floor. But the Lady Hornets (5-3, 0-2 MIAA) weren’t much better, with ESU knocking down just 25 percent of its shots in the opening quarter. The home team led by as many as three before FHSU scored the final six points to take a 15-11 lead at the end of the first frame.
Fort Hays State stretched the run to 12-0 after holding the Lady Hornets scoreless for more than four minutes in the second quarter. Emporia State snapped out of the funk over the final 5:28 of the first half, hitting 7-of-9 from the floor to close within 30-28 at the break. The Tigers would have trailed at halftime had it not been for a corner 3-pointer from Lauren West with less than a minute to play.
The teams traded punches in the third quarter, with Emporia State momentarily taking the lead early in the frame before Randall put the Tigers back in front with a layup. The Lady Hornets tied the score twice later in the frame, but Randall had an answer each time. The senior tallied nine of her season-high 20 points in the third quarter, hitting all three of her field goal attempts and adding three more points at the free-throw line.
After leading by three with 10 minutes to play, Fort Hays State opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to grab its largest lead of the game, 57-46. Wagner scored the next four points to help the Tigers maintain a double-digit lead as Emporia State started to make one final run. The Lady Hornets hit 6-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-6 from behind the arc down the stretch to make things interesting, but Fort Hays State held on thanks to an 8-of-10 effort at the free-throw line over the final three-plus minutes.
Emporia State’s Tre’Zure Jobe closed the gap to four, 61-57, with a 3-pointer before Randall answered with a triple of her own from the left wing with 90 seconds remaining.
Playing in her first game since suffering an injury during the opening weekend of the season, Jaden Hobbs sealed the game with six free throws on six attempts over the final 45 seconds. Jobe hit her fifth 3-pointer of the game in the final seconds to make it a one-possession game, but the Tigers safely got the ball in bounds and Hobbs added two final free throws to secure the victory.
Randall added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals to her team-high 20 points. Wagner totaled 18 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. Hobbs scored 10 points after hitting 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, while Jessie Sallach added 10 points and two blocks off the bench. West totaled eight points and a team-high five assists thanks to a pair of first-half 3-pointers.
Despite the slow start, the Tigers finished the game with a shooting percentage of 40.0 percent (22-of-55) while holding ESU to a 37.5 percent effort from the floor (24-of-64). Fort Hays State outrebounded the Lady Hornets by 11, 43-32, and outscored them by 16 at the free-throw line, 23-7. Jobe finished the afternoon with a game-high 26 points.
Fort Hays State will wrap up a run of rivalry games next Saturday (Dec. 11) when the Tigers host No. 21 Nebraska-Kearney beginning at 2 p.m.
-The Tigers have now won two of the last 18 meetings in the series with Emporia State inside White Auditorium (since 1995).
-Emporia State has lost three home games in a season for just the second time since the turn of the century.
-The seven-game winning streak to open the year is tied for the fourth-longest in team history.