CLAREMORE, Okla. - After trailing by as many as 11 late in the third quarter, the 13th-ranked Fort Hays State women's basketball team came from behind to defeat Rogers State Saturday (Jan. 11), 71-69. The Tigers move to 13-2 overall and 4-2 in MIAA play after their seventh win in a row, while the Hillcats dip to 2-14 on the year and 0-7 in conference action.
Belle Barbieri helped the Tigers keep things close over the first 10 minutes, scoring 10 of FHSU's 14 points in the opening quarter. The senior dropped in 5-of-8 attempts in the first quarter, including assists from four different teammates on all five of her makes.
The teams traded the lead five times in the first half, but a nine-point run midway through the second quarter helped Rogers State pull away for the first time. The Hillcats buried 11 triples in the game, hitting 55 percent from behind the arc.
A late layup from Jaden Hobbs helped the Tigers close within four at the break, 34-30, but RSU opened the second half with five quick points to go back up by nine. The Tigers made multiple runs to close within two possessions, but the Hillcats seemingly had an answer each time.
After the Tigers closed within five with five minutes left in the third, Rogers State buried a pair of 3-pointers to stretch the lead to 11, the largest deficit of the season for the Tigers. Hobbs ended a three-minute scoreless stretch for the Tigers with a bucket, but RSU quickly responded with a score of its own. Whitney Randall hit a big shot late in the quarter to try and give the Tigers the momentum heading into the fourth quarter, but Samirah Thompson banked in a shot just before the horn sounded to put the Hillcats up by nine with 10 minutes to play, 56-47.
The Tigers hit just 28.6 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter, but they earned 20 trips to the free-throw line to complete the comeback. Fort Hays State corralled 10 offensive rebounds in the final frame, leading to eight second-chance points. The Tiger defense stepped up as well, forcing nine turnovers and limiting RSU to a 4-of-11 effort from the floor over the final 10 minutes.
The Hillcats led by 10 when Lilly Garner hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the fourth, but the Tiger defense went on to hold RSU without a bucket for more than eight minutes to storm back. Fort Hays State went on a 15-2 run over the next eight minutes, forcing seven turnovers and six-straight Rogers State misses from the floor.
After scoring just two points in the first three quarters, Taylor Rolfs helped the Tigers fight back with 10 points in the final frame. The senior scored six-straight points to start the run before assisting on a jumper from Hobbs that put the Tigers within one possession, 59-57.
A free throw from Cydney Bergmann tied things up with 3:29 to play before the sophomore gave the Tigers the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter with a strong layup. Barbieri pushed the lead to three with a free throw before Rogers State finally found the bottom of the net to close within one, 64-63, with 81 seconds to go. Rolfs pushed the lead back to three with a jumper before Barbieri hit two big free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Kacey Kennett made a quick steal, allowing the Tigers to run nine more seconds off the clock before Rolfs returned to the line to hit two more free throws and stretch the lead to seven. Rogers State hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left and hit another with just two seconds on the clock to close within one, but the Hillcats did not have enough time to get off a potential game-winner after Hobbs hit another free throw.
Fort Hays State finished the game 26-for-65 (40 percent) from the floor, including just two makes from behind the arc (2-of-15, 13.3 percent). The Tigers hit 17-of-28 from the free-throw line, while the Hillcats made just seven trips to the charity stripe (6-of-7). Rogers State recorded a 46.4 percent effort from the floor, its best shooting percentage against a Division II opponent this season, while drilling a season-best 55 percent from behind the arc.
The Tigers forced 18 turnovers, making eight steals, while turning the ball over just nine times in the victory.
Barbieri led the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, recording her fifth double-double of the season. Hobbs totaled 14 points, three assists and one steal. Rolfs added 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Kennett tallied nine points, seven rebounds, one assist and two steals, while Randall contributed eight points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Bergmann picked up eight points off the bench alongside three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
Garner led the Hillcats with 19 points after hitting five 3-pointers.
Fort Hays State returns to Gross Memorial Coliseum Wednesday when the Tigers look to avenge a previous loss to No. 16 Emporia State. First tip is set for 5:30 p.m.