WARRENSBURG, Mo. - The Fort Hays State women's basketball team battled back from down 11 to lead by two with two minutes to play, but No. 24 Central Missouri closed the game on a 9-0 run to win 76-69 Thursday (Feb. 13). The Tigers move to 17-6 on the year and 8-6 in MIAA play, while the Jennies are now 19-4 overall and 13-1 in league action.
Both teams started slow before UCM started to pull ahead late in the first quarter, leading 21-10 by the end of the period. The Tigers bounced back in the second quarter, holding the Jennies scoreless for nearly seven minutes and going on a 12-0 run to go in front by one, 22-21. Jaden Hobbs ended a long scoreless drought on both ends of the floor with a 3-pointer to help the Tigers close within five. Cydney Bergmann added a layup on the following possession to make it a one-possession game before Madison Mittie tied things up with a 3-pointer. Whitney Randall gave the Tigers the lead with a free throw on the next trip down the floor.
The Jennies opened the second half with a 9-2 run, but the Tigers answered back with nine-straight points to keep things close. Mittie opened the run with a pair of free throws before knocking down her third 3-pointer of the game. Kacey Kennett and Belle Barbieri helped the Tigers close within 41-40 with jumpers on the next to Tiger possessions.
The teams continue to swap jabs in the third quarter before Hobbs and Randall buried 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, pushing the Tigers in front, 53-52. The Alva, Okla. natives both added another bucket in the final 79 seconds of the frame, but UCM hit 5-of-6 free throws to head into the fourth quarter tied at 57.
UCM once again opened the quarter strong, scoring the first five points to take control. Bergmann helped the Tigers stay close with four points in 18 seconds.
Trailing 67-63, the Tigers went on a 6-0 run over a three-minute stretch to go back in front with just two minutes to play, 69-67. Bergmann opened the run with a layup before Rolfs tied things up on a layup. Bergmann and Barbieri then hit 1-of-2 free throws each, putting the Tigers up by two with 2:03 on the clock.
The Tiger defense stood tall over that run, holding the Jennies 0-for-4 from the floor. But the teams swapped places over the waning minutes, with UCM closing the game on a 9-0 run after hitting 7-of-8 from the line. FHSU had chances down the stretch, but the Tigers missed their final six shots from the floor.
Fort Hays State hit 35.6 percent from the floor (21-of-59), including a 6-for-20 day from behind the arc. The Jennies knocked down 45.1 percent of their shots (23-of-51) and took advantage of 30 trips to the free-throw line with 24 makes.
Five players scored in double figures for the Tigers, led by Hobbs' 16 points. The junior added five assists, four rebounds and one steal. Randall tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and two steals, with Bergmann chipping in 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Mittie contributed 11 points, with Barbieri picking up 10 points and two blocks.
Morgan Fleming and Megan Skaggs led the Jennies with 29 and 23 points, respectively.
The Tigers wrap up the quick road trip Saturday (Feb. 15) when they battle Lincoln in Jefferson City, Mo. First tip from Jason Gym is set for 1 p.m.