Things went well for the Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team on Wednesday night at home against Lincoln.
Fort Hays needed a commanding performance to help ease the disappointment of its first loss last week against Newman, and they got it in spades.
The Tigers defeated the Blue Tigers 62-39. This was the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association season opener for both teams, and also the first time they’d ever faced off on a basketball court.
Lincoln, previously a member of the Heartland Conference, became the MIAA’s 12th member this year.
According to head coach Tony Hobson, the Fort Hays defensive effort was what made the difference.
“I think one of the reasons they weren’t getting the shots they wanted was because we did a lot better with the interior defense the first half,” Hobson said. “They had to settle for some perimeter shots and we were forcing them to do things they didn’t want to do.”
The Tigers started off hot right away, going 15-of-36 from the field in the first half.
However, their performance behind the 3-point line suffered. They were only 3-of-18 from long range.
“The first half we were taking some shots too early on the clock,” Hobson said. “I didn’t like three or four of the shots we took and even though we talked about it during halftime we didn’t do much better the second half.”
Hobson was more critical of his team’s performance during the second half.
“I don’t know if we just lost our focus or if they were doing anything different, but in the second half we kind of decided not to double down because we didn’t want to give up threes and they scored some on us,” Hobson said.
“I liked our defensive intensity for the most part, but we kind of lost our focus just a little bit in the second half. I’m not going to be understanding, but I’ve seen that a lot over the years. You get an easy lead and it’s too easy for us the first half and then we start slacking off a little bit.”
The Blue Tigers were only 6-of-28 from the field the first half, but that improved to 11-of-29 for the second. None of Lincoln’s players managed to break into the double digits in scoring.
Junior guard Kimber Weiser led the Tigers with 13 points, shooting 5-of-12 from the field. Weiser came off a career-high 20 points against Newman, doubling her previous record against Regis last season and taking the top spot for points scored by a Tiger this year.
Junior forward Kara Champlin followed close behind Weiser against Lincoln with 12 points, shooting 85 percent (6-of-7) from the field.
Despite his team’s degradation in intensity throughout the game, Hobson was pleased with an opening win.
“You don’t want to start off losing your first two or three, because then the pressure tends to build,” Hobson said. “We’ll definitely take it.”
Fort Hays faces off against the University of Nebraska-Omaha at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers were defeated last year in their conference opener against the Mavericks 68-62.
Hobson knows that it will take more effort from his team to pull out a win.
“We’re going to have to play better Friday to beat them,” Hobson said. “Nebraska-Omaha is really skilled on the perimeter. They’re going be like Kearney, although quite a bit more athletic.”