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FHSU women advance in MIAA tourney

Special to The Hays Daily News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Normally reliant on all-MIAA inside performers, the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team sped away from Missouri Southern during beyond-the-perimeter proficiency.

The No. 4-seeded Lions limited the damage Kate Lehman and Katelyn Edwards could inflict but offered no answer for a supporting cast that shone during key stretches in fifth-seeded Fort Hays’ 78-57 romp in the MIAA Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at Municipal Auditorium.

Down from the opening tip, Southern (19-8) crawled back to a reasonable deficit at multiple junctures, but couldn’t complete a season sweep of Fort Hays when ancillary talents who blend in on scouting reports kept sinking critical 3-pointers.

Both Tera Ingalsbe and Taylor Chandler carried long-range shooting percentages in the mid-20s this season. However, the duo combined to drain 5-of-7 treys for the Tigers — who entered the second round with the MIAA’s 12th-best 3-point connect rate at 29

“When we have more than just Chelsea (Mason) hitting the 3s, it’s gonna be a good day,” said Ingalsbe, who scored 14 points in just 12 minutes and downed each of her three 3-point tries.

When Southern — slotted 10th in the Central Region, one behind Fort Hays in advance of Sunday’s NCAA Division II Tournament selection show — beat Fort Hays in January in Joplin, Mo. The Tigers connected on just 3-of-12 triples. Their 8-for-19 rate Thursday wasn’t exactly lethal, but the makes helped quell any Lions hopes of completing a season sweep.

The Lions closed to 19-11 just outside of 12 minutes to play in the first period and proceeded to give up four 3s — two from Ingalsbe, who is a 22-percent 3-point shooter, on precise passes in a halfcourt setting — during a 14-4 Tigers run across the next five-plus minutes.

Fort Hays, which led 41-33 at halftime, buried Southern on the strength of its second and final perimeter barrage midway through the second period.

Beth Bohuslavsky (13 points) and Chandler (eight) splashed in back-to-back 3s from the right and left corners, respectively, on consecutive possessions amid an 11-0 run that culminated with the Tigers up 66-44 with 8 minutes, 30 seconds remaining and comfortably en route to the MIAA semifinals for the second straight year.

“That’s not our forte, let’s put it that way,” said Fort Hays coach Tony Hobson, whose team advances to face top-seeded Central Missouri on Saturday. “It’s not like we haven’t had some games where we’ve had some 3s; they were just so timely. It seemed like they’d cut it to 10 or cut it to 12 and then we’d hit a 3. That really takes the heart out of the team when they work so hard to try to chip away and somebody shakes loose and hits a 3.”

Lehman, who banked in hooks on back-to-back possessions against one-on-one defense to put the Tigers’ lead back in double digits early in the second half, factored into the rout in usual fashion, blocking six shots to push her total to a Division II-best 152.

The 6-foot-4 junior, however, received occasional help inside, and the Lions’ three-forward attack struggled throughout after each surpassed 10 points in the teams’ first meeting.

Dominique Mosley’s team-high 13 points came on 3-of-12 shooting, and the Shonte Clay/Sharese Jones athletic interior partnership combined for just 14.

“Basically, their defense really made us uncomfortable offensively. It felt like we were out of sync for 40 minutes. It didn’t feel like anything came easy for us,” said Southern coach Ronda Hubbard, whose team shot just 33 percent to Fort Hays’ 44. “They’re not a team that normally doubles in the post, and that was something that caught us off-guard a little bit.”

Edwards added nine points and 10 rebounds, and Mason added 11 points -- all in the first half.

Back-to-back runners from Mason initially inflated the margin into double figures less than six minutes into the game that almost certainly eliminates Southern. Fort Hays has a chance to avenge a season-ending loss to Central in last year’s semifinal round, an upset it likely needs to pull in order to continue a quest to advance to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2005. Central Missouri also ended FHSU’s season two years ago.

“The way I’m approaching it is we need to win the whole tournament,” said Hobson, a member of regional committee. “If something happens that we win one more and slip in there, I won’t give it back, but we probably need to win it.”

Central beat Fort Hays 72-51 in December in Warrensburg, Mo., a performance that doubled as the conference scoring leader’s second-lowest output of the season.