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Blowout win for Tiger women

By AUSTIN COLBERT
acolbert@dailynews.net

Being the reigning MIAA Defensive Player of the Year and having led the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team in points last season, it’s difficult to blame the Tigers for trying to get the ball to Kate Lehman.

What they found out, however, is they don’t necessarily need her to win games.

“I thought we were trying to force it inside to Kate Lehman a couple of times and threw it away early. They were really trying to take that away,” FHSU coach Tony Hobson said. “After, we kind of settled in and started taking open shots instead of trying to put the ball where it didn’t belong.”

Following a little trial and error, FHSU found its rhythm and rolled by visiting Oklahoma Panhandle State 109-45 on Saturday in the team’s home opener at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The 109 points fell just shy of the school record 116 set against Stephens College (Mo.) in 2006.

FHSU (2-0) jumped out to a 9-2 lead before OPSU (0-3) fought back to get as close as 17-15 with 11:38 to play in the first half. After Aggie guard Brittany Alavinejad drained a 3-pointer to make it 22-18, OPSU was effectively never heard from again.

The Tigers closed the half on a 24-8 run, including a 14-0 spurt over six minutes, to take a 46-26 lead into the locker room. FHSU outrebounded the Aggies 33 to 9 in the first half, and was 15 of 19 from the free-throw line, compared to 5 of 8 for OPSU.

“I think we are still learning how to play together. It’s taken us a little while to get going in each of the games,” said senior guard Katelyn Edwards, who led the Tigers with 23 points and 12 rebounds. “The first two games we really showed we have a lot of potential this year and we could have a really exciting year if everything keeps going the way it is.”

The second half proved to be a cakewalk for the Tigers, outscoring OPSU 63-19 over the final 20 minutes. More than anything, the large lead gave Hobson a chance to get his young players some extended playing time.

Jill Faxon, a freshman from Beatrice, Neb., was the most impressive. She finished with 21 points on 6 of 8 shooting in 16 minutes of action. Faxon was 3 of 4 from the 3-point line and 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.

“The first couple of times some of them came into the game, even tonight, was the first time they have played here. They were a little jittery,” Hobson said. “What I was hoping wouldn’t happen was if we did get out on them a little bit was that it would get sloppy. I don’t think it ever really did. I thought whoever was in the game did a good job of executing our offense.”

Senior Tera Ingalsbe added 15 points off the bench, while sophomore transfer Chelsea Mason, who scored 32 points in the Tigers’ season opening 94-55 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State on Wednesday, finished with 11.

Lehman had nice points, but did lead the team with 15 rebounds. The Tigers outrebounded OPSU 65-24 for the game.

Sarah Johnson led the Aggies with 11 points, while Alavinejad added 10.

“Obviously we can’t be satisfied and we have to keep working, but we’ve really had some people start to step up already,” Edwards said. “I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect coming into this year. We were all really excited to see what the year was going to bring.”

The Tigers will host NAIA Bethel College at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.