WICHITA — The Fort Hays State women's basketball team couldn't find the big run to completely break away from Newman on Tuesday, but the Tigers had enough answers to keep the Jets grounded.
No. 11-ranked FHSU remained in control throughout, fighting off a few abbreviated spurts from Newman to notch a 72-60 win at Fugate Gymnasium.
FHSU led by eight at halftime and built a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter. The Jets managed to creep within single digits on several occasions but got no closer than seven points in the second half.
“We kept our composure really well,” said FHSU junior guard Lanie Page, who scored a game-high 20 points. “Newman’s a really hard place to play. Their environment’s crazy. They’re really loud, so it was really good that we were able to come back and match those runs.”
The Tigers (3-0) had a solid shooting night from the field, going 24 of 56 for 43 percent, but left the door open by going just 16 of 30 from the foul line.
“We just could never quite get away from them,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “We’d have some momentum going, make a big play, go to the basket, get fouled and miss free throws. We left 14 points at the free throw line. … We just got to do a better job of making that percentage. If you make another four or six, it gets stretched out and it changes the game completely. … I think we have enough experience that we did answer the call.”
Page, a Wamego product who transferred into the program last season from Kansas State, led the Tigers in scoring for the second straight game, going 6 of 13 from the floor and 7 of 11 from the foul line. She had the Tigers’ last six points, including a 3-point play off a drive to the basket to put Fort Hays up 69-59 with 2:11 left.
“Coach is always telling me to keep shooting and I know he’s the same with everybody else,” Page said. “It’s really nice to have a coach that has a lot of confidence in you and I think that really translates in how we play on the court.”
“She looks much more comfortable this year,” Hobson said of Page. “I think the last two games she kind of got going a little bit. First game (against Southwest Minnesota State) she kind of struggled, but then that Saturday game (against Upper Iowa) she had 17, and she had 20 tonight.
“She’s just always kind of under control. She takes good shots and tonight was no exception.”
FHSU senior point guard Carly Heim added 11 points, including a 3-pointer that put the Tigers up 12 with 5:40 left.
Tatyana Legette picked up two early fouls and struggled offensively (1 of 8 from the field), but the senior forward made up for it by grabbing 12 rebounds.
“It totally changed the complexion of the game,” Hobson said of the two quick fouls on Legette. “She came within an eye lash of having a steal and layup. They kind of call a close foul on her and she sits the rest of the half, and so she never did get into a rhythm offensively. She still had 12 boards in 23 minutes.
“She gives us another gear. She can really rebound and we have to have that rebounding.”
All 10 Tigers that played found the scoring column for FHSU.
“I’m not afraid to put anybody in the game," Hobson said. "In the fourth quarter, I think we had four kids off the bench in there at the same time. (Whitney) Randall’s really proven that she can get it done. I’m never afraid to have Taylor Rolfs or Whitney Clampitt in the game, or Hailey Walker. (Madison) Mittie is playing well.
“Sometimes I look out there and I got five kids off the bench, and you just can’t really tell that much difference.”
Up next, the Tigers will play two more non-conference games in Kearney, Neb., facing UC-Colorado Springs at 5 p.m. Saturday and Chadron State at 2 p.m. on Sunday.