By SEAN McCARRELL
(HAYS, Kan., digitalBURG) – The Tigers of Fort Hays State used a blistering start to cruise past the Jennies Wednesday night 95-50.
The Jennies, who did not make a field goal until nearly 12 minutes into the game, struggled on both ends of the floor and dropped their MIAA opener.
A free throw by Nicole Caddell in the game’s first minute was the only scoring for UCM in the first 12 minutes of the game. After Caddell’s free throw made the game 4-1 Fort Hays, the Tigers went on a 33-0 run.
Fort Hays’ full-court pressure stymied the Jennies offense for much of the night, while the Tigers were able to score seemingly at will. Fort Hays was led by 6-foot-4-inch forward Kate Lehman, who was able to score consistently underneath, contributing largely to her team’s 36-4 advantage in the paint at the half.
In addition to their deficit in the paint, the Jennies’ offense turned the ball over 17 times in the opening half.
“That press was crushing to us,” said Jennies head coach Dave Slifer. “It was Murphy’s Law tonight.”
With the Jennies trailing 37-1, Caddell made the first field goal of the game for UCM at the 8:01 mark in the first half. After Caddell’s shot, the Jennies finished the half outscoring the Tigers 14-10, and went into the locker room trailing 47-15.
While the Jennies were much improved in the second half, the Tigers’ early lead was insurmountable. Fort Hays continued to pressure the Jennies’ ball handlers and score points in the paint.
A fast-moving period, the second half saw the Tigers continue to make outside shots as well, finishing 7/13 (54 percent) from 3-point range.
The Jennies only turned the ball over six times in the second half, and passed the ball much better. UCM finished with a total of 23 turnovers and 14 assists, compared to 16 turnovers and 21 assists by Fort Hays State.
“It was one of those nights where anything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong,” Slifer said.
In the half, Fort Hays extended its lead to as many as 49, but when all was said and done the Tigers defeated the Jennies 95-50.
“Right now we’re a team that’s stunned,” Slifer said. “We need to restructure things and get some confidence.”
Fort Hays State was led by Kate Lehman, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The Jennies were paced in scoring by Symone Murray, who finished with 13 points. Caddell finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Jennies, who suffered their first loss of the season, falling to 5-1 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA, returns home Saturday afternoon to take on the Hornets of Emporia State in an MIAA game at the UCM Multipurpose Building. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m.