By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
The Fort Hays State women’s basketball team pulled away from the Newman Jets in the fourth quarter Thursday evening (Feb. 8), winning 76-57. The Tigers (17-5, 11-5 MIAA) trailed by as many as eight before outscoring the Jets (2-20, 1-15 MIAA) by 18 in the final frame, 28-10.
It was the Olivia Hollenbeck show early on, with the junior forward scoring the first 12 points of the game for the Tigers en route to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first quarter alone. Newman countered by hitting four 3-pointers and knocking down 56.3 percent in the first quarter, giving the Jets a 23-21 lead after 10 minutes of action.
Both sides struggled to score early in the second quarter, with the teams combining to hit just two field goals over the first six-plus minutes of the frame. Newman eventually led by as many as eight, 33-25, with 2:35 to go until halftime before the Tigers mounted a rally. Fort Hays State scored the final eight points of the half, sparked by a pair of free throws that gave Hollenbeck 22 first-half points.
Megan Earney buried a 3-pointer on the next possession that cut the deficit to three, 35-32, before Katie Wagner corralled a rebound with five seconds on the clock and raced the length of the floor to convert a layup through traffic. The Andover, Kan. native drilled the ensuing free throw to tie things up as the teams left for the locker room, 35-35.
Newman momentarily regained the lead with an early basket in the third quarter before Fort Hays State used another 8-0 run to go on top, 43-37. Wagner opened the rally with a layup off a pass from Sydney Golladaybefore she finished the run with another driving layup off an assist from Emma Ruddle.
A late third-quarter 3-pointer from the Jets cut the FHSU lead to one and Newman tied the score early in the fourth on a free throw, but it was all Tigers over the final 9:05. Fort Hays State was nearly perfect down the stretch, hitting 11-of-13 from the floor over the last nine-plus minutes while turning the ball over just once. The Tiger defense was just as potent down the stretch, forcing six turnovers thanks to five steals during that stretch.
Earney kicked off a game-sealing 28-9 run with her second 3-pointer of the game, putting the Tigers in front once and for all. Kate Dilsaver followed with a driving layup before Jessie Sallach knocked down a fadeaway jumper to pad the lead to six. Brooke Loewe added a pair of 3-pointers, ultimately scoring all 11 of her points in the final stanza.
After surpassing her career-high in scoring in the third quarter, Hollenbeck knocked down a free throw with 2:16 to go for her 30th and final point of the night, moving her into 14th on the all-time scoring list (1,258 career points) at FHSU passing Tatyana Legette. It is the third time a Tiger has scored 30 or more points in a game this season and is tied for the second-most points scored by a Tiger this year. The Lincoln, Neb. native added seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks on the defensive end.
Wagner turned in another dominant performance, totaling 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out six assists and adding two steals. Loewe (4-of-4, 11 points) and Earney (2-of-2, six points) were both perfect from the floor.
The Tigers finished the game shooting right at 50 percent from the floor (29-of-58) while winning the rebound battle by three, 34-31. The Tigers dominated in the paint, outscoring the Jets 42-18 under the basket.
Fort Hays State will wrap up the weekend homestand Saturday (Feb. 10) when the Tigers host Central Oklahoma beginning at 2 p.m. inside Gross Memorial Coliseum.