Nov 20, 2021 3:06 AM

馃弨 #4 Tiger women rallies past Huskies

Posted Nov 20, 2021 3:06 AM
Whitney Randall drives against St. Cloud  State Friday at Gross Coliseum (Courtesy FHSU Athletics (Nicole Heitmann)
Whitney Randall drives against St. Cloud  State Friday at Gross Coliseum (Courtesy FHSU Athletics (Nicole Heitmann)

HAYS, Kan. - Behind a solid defensive performance, the No. 4 Fort Hays State women's basketball team rallied to defeat St. Cloud State in its first home game of the new season Friday evening (Nov. 19), 58-51. The win was Fort Hays State's 18th-consecutive victory in a home opener and was the 46th-straight regular season, non-conference win for FHSU.

The Tigers (3-0) fell behind for the first time all season when St. Cloud State (0-1) scored on the first basket of the game. The Huskies led by as many as seven before the first media timeout before leading 14-10 at the end of the first period.

Fort Hays State stormed in front by scoring the first eight points of the second quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer from Megan Earney. A layup from Olivia Hollenbeck capped off an 11-0 Tiger run and put FHSU in front by four before SCSU fought back to tie things up at 20 late in the frame. Hollenbeck and Earney both scored from the paint in the final two minutes to give the Tigers a four-point advantage at the break, 24-20.

After a cold-shooting first half, both teams started to heat up in the third quarter, with SCSU hitting 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from the floor in the frame and the Tigers knocking down 40 percent (6-of-15). The Huskies regained the lead early in the quarter before an 8-0 run gave FHSU its largest lead of the game at six. Katie Wagner tied the score at 30 with a layup before Lauren West put the Tigers in front with a 3-pointer just before the media timeout. Whitney Randall added the next three points to put the Tigers up 36-30. The Huskies responded by closing the set on a 12-6 run, leveling the score at 42 after a made 3-pointer with seven seconds on the clock.

The teams went back-and-forth to start the final period before the Tiger defense took over, limiting St. Cloud State to just two points over the last six-plus minutes. The Huskies hit just 1-of-11 from the floor down the stretch, including a miss on their last five shot attempts. Fort Hays State scored the final seven points to create just enough separation, including five points at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds.

The potential game-sealing play came with 45 seconds when West made a steal as the Huskies were trying to advance the ball after a defensive rebound. The sophomore guard drove straight to the rim and finished a layup with her left hand, giving the Tigers the lead for good with 41 seconds to go.

Randall led the Tigers with 12 points, while West had 11 points and three steals. Wagner posted eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds, with Earney adding eight points. Emma Ruddle led the team with three assists and added four points and two steals.

St. Cloud State was led by Tori Wortz, who totaled 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals, while Nikki Kilboten blocked seven shots and added 10 rebounds.

The Tigers hit just 31.3 percent from the floor (20-of-64) while holding SCSU to a shooting percentage of 34.4 percent (21-of-61). FHSU outrebounded the Huskies by three, 43-40. The Tigers totaled 11 second-chance points, compared to just two for the visitors.

Fort Hays State will wrap up the weekend against Cameron Saturday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m.  

FHSU Athletics