KEARNEY, Neb. — The No. 3/5 Fort Hays State women's basketball team came away on the losing end of a back-and-forth battle with Nebraska-Kearney Tuesday evening (Dec. 3), 73-65. The Tigers move to 6-1 on the season and 0-1 in MIAA play, while the Lopers remain undefeated at 7-0, 1-0 in league action.
The Tigers took a few minutes to get into a rhythm on offense, missing its first four shots from the floor before Jaden Hobbs buried a 3-pointer from the right corner nearly five minutes into the contest. Nebraska-Kearney was red-hot from behind the arc in the opening frame, knocking down 4-of-8 from deep to build a seven-point lead over the first seven-plus minutes, 17-10.
Fort Hays State responded by scoring the final eight points of the quarter to take an 18-17 lead into the second period. Whitney Randall poured in a pair of free throws before Taylor Rolfs hit a jumper on the next trip down the floor. Lanie Page added four points in a five-second span after a turnover to give the Tigers their first lead of the evening.
The Tigers struggled from the floor in the second quarter, hitting just 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) to allow the Lopers to claw back in front. Nebraska-Kearney scored the first seven points of the frame to go back in front by six before Hobbs ended the run with a made jumper. Kacey Kennett buried a 3-pointer later in the quarter to help the Tigers close within three, 26-23. A layup from Randall with 4:50 to go before halftime would be the final bucket for the Tigers until Hobbs made an acrobatic layup on the final shot of the half, trimming the halftime deficit to 32-27.
Belle Barbieri scored the first six points of the second half to help the Tigers go back in front by one, 33-32. The Tigers held UNK scoreless over the first three minutes of the half thanks to three blocks from Page and steals from Barbieri and Hobbs. The teams traded the lead five more times before Fort Hays State closed the quarter on a 12-3 run to take a 51-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
Fort Hays State kept the run going into the fourth quarter, scoring six of the first eight points to stretch the lead to 12, 57-45. But the final seven-plus minutes belonged to Nebraska-Kearney, who went on a 28-8 run and held the Tigers to 3-of-15 shooting down the stretch to pull off the upset.
Hobbs led the Tigers with a season-high 20 points while adding a team-best four assists. Barbieri added 15 points, all in the second half, alongside nine rebounds and two steals. Page totaled 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Randall tallied nine points, seven rebounds and two assists. Kennett recorded eight points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
The Tigers finished the game with a shooting percentage of 37.1 percent (23-of-62), including a season-low 18.8 percent from deep (3-of-16). Fort Hays State was outrebounded for the first time this season, 44-37. The Tigers controlled the ball well like they have all season, turning the ball over just eight times while forcing 13 Loper turnovers. UNK finished the game with a shooting percentage of 40.0 percent (24-of-60) and a 45.8 percent effort from behind the arc (11-of-24).
The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak for the Tigers in Kearney.
The Tigers will look to bounce back when they travel to Emporia, Kan. to take on the Lady Hornets of Emporia State on Saturday (Dec. 7). First tip is set for 1:30 p.m. from historic White Auditorium.