The Fort Hays State women's basketball team returns to action for the first time in 16 days Saturday (Jan. 4) when the No. 16 Tigers host conference foe Missouri Southern. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. inside Gross Memorial Coliseum.
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Both teams are in a similar spot in the league standings, entering Saturday with an 0-2 conference record and searching for their first league win. The Tigers head into the contest 9-2 overall, while the Lions enter 2020 with a 3-7 record.
The Tigers and Lions are coming off non-conference victories in their most recent action more than two weeks ago. FHSU defeated Bethany College (Dec. 11) in its last home game before picking up big wins over regional foe Harding (Dec. 18) and No. 6 Saint Anselm (Dec. 19) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Missouri Southern, meanwhile, defeated Oklahoma Wesleyan in its most recent contest (Dec. 17).
Fort Hays State is 33-18 all-time against Missouri Southern, including wins in 12 of the last 14 matchups. The Tigers have dominated at home, winning 22 of 26 contests in Hays and seven straight. Fort Hays State is 14-6 overall and 9-1 at home against MSSU under head coach Tony Hobson.
Kacey Kennett averages 12.2 points per game in five meetings with Missouri Southern, including 12 or more points in each of the last three games. Belle Barbieri puts up 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in four games against the Lions, including a career-high 21 points last season in Joplin. Whitney Randall scored 10 points in both meetings last season. Madison Mittie averaged 14.5 points per game in two meetings against the Lions during her freshman season.
The Tigers continue to lead the nation in turnovers, giving the ball away just 9.6 times per game. FHSU forced 19 turnovers against both Harding and No. 6 Saint Anselm in Florida, while turning the ball over just 18 times in those two games combined (12 vs HU, 6 vs StA).
Junior guard Jaden Hobbs has been a big contributing factor to Fort Hays State's high rate of ball control, ranking third in the country with an assist/turnover ratio of 3.07. The Alva, Okla. native has dished out 46 assists through the first 11 games, while turning the ball over just 15 times.
The Lions score 72.6 points per night, ranked eighth in the MIAA. They give up the second-most points in the league, surrendering 70.3 points per contest. MSSU leads the league in blocked shots, ranking third in the nation with 6.6 blocks each game. They make 5.6 steals per contest, ranked 292nd out of 304 DII programs. MSSU ranks third in the conference with 41.6 rebounds per game.
MSSU is led by a trio of upperclassmen averaging at least 13 points per game. Senior Chasidee Owens leads the team and ranks ninth in the MIAA with an average of 15.6 points per game, with fellow senior Destiny Cozart close behind at 15.4 ppg. Junior Zoe Campbell adds 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest while leading the league and ranking fourth nationally with 3.6 blocks per game. Amber Buch leads the team and sits in eighth in the MIAA with 3.2 assists each night.