UCM’s offense was led by senior Keuna Flax, who scored 24 points and added four assists and three steals. Sophomore Shelby Winkelmann added 11 while senior BreAnna Lewis chipped in 10. Junior Revonnia Howard turned in a strong defensive performance, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking four shots, including one in the final seconds, denying a driving Beth Bohuslavsky underneath the basket.
The first half had three ties with the largest lead for either team at six points. Fort Hays State scored the game’s first three points, but the Jennies answered with nine straight points following four layups by Winkelmann, Howard, Danielle Barry and Brielle Wattley.
The Tigers worked to tie the game at 13-13 over the next 4:14, capped off by a layup from Kate Lehman, that finished a 5-0 run for FHSU.
Quinnecia Twine answered with a trey on the ensuing possession to put UCM back on top, 16-13. but Fort Hays State’s Chelsea Mason helped knot the game at 20-20 with a three-pointer of her own with 6:17 left in the opening half.
The Jennies outscored the Tigers 10-8 in the remaining 5:52 to take a 30-28 lead into halftime. Eight players scored, including four reserves who gave the team 11 points in the opening half.
The two teams exchanged baskets in the first 4:04 of the second half, but UCM pulled away thanks in part to three treys, two coming from Wattley. The scoring outburst provided UCM with a 54-40 lead with 9:16 remaining in the game.
Fort Hays State continued to fight back, cutting the deficit to nine with 7:42 left after seven straight points from Lehman.
After Flax split a pair of free throws to put the Jennies ahead by double-digits at 57-47, Fort Hays State ran off 17 points en route to a 17-3 spurt over the next 4:11, giving the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 64-60 with just over three minutes left.
The Jennies responded following a timeout, pulling to within a basket following two free throws from Flax. On the next UCM possession, Howard was fouled by Lehman and hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 64 apiece.
The Tigers’ Keriann Shaw scored on a layup on the next possession, giving FHSU the lead back at 66-64 with 2:12 to go.
The Jennies answered when Flax found Winkelmann for an open three at the top of the circle, giving the Jennies the lead at 67-66 with 1:49 on the clock.
Edwards drew a foul from Winkelmann on the ensuing possession and split a pair of free throws, marking the game’s sixth tie.
Flax came back to hit a jumper with a 1:02 left leading to a timeout. Edwards came back with a lyup to event the score at 69-69 with 34 seconds left.
On the last Jennies’ possession, Twine found Flax in front of the basket for the game-winning layup with five seconds remaining.
On the final possession for Fort Hays State, Bohuslavsky drove to the right side of the basket but was denied by Howard with one second left. Howard grabbed the loose ball as time expired, extending Central Missouri’s win streak to 10 games, the longest since the 1995-96 season when they started 15-0.
Howard’s four blocks gives her 40 on the season, tying Christie Brown for 10th most in a single-season. She is two blocked shots shy of moving into eighth-place on the Jennies’ single-season list.
The win was the 25th for UCM, the most since the 1989-90 season when they finished 29-3 under head coach Jon Pye. That team went on the win the MIAA Tournament.
The Jennies will play the winner of the Southwest Baptist-Emporia State semifinal matchup Sunday, March 9 at 1 p.m.