(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – In a back-and-forth-battle at the MIAA Tournament, the 13th-ranked Central Missouri Jennies knocked down some clutch free throws and dominated in overtime to earn a 87-78 victory over the Fort Hays State Tigers.
The Jennies advance to the MIAA Championship game for the first time since 2010.
The Jens (24-4) took a quick lead in the opening minutes with a pair of jumpers from BreAnna Lewis, earning a 4-0 advantage. Lewis finished with a game-high 27 points off 7-of-14 shooting, and a 3-of-5 performance from beyond the arc. After a three-point play from Keuna Flax put the Jens ahead 7-5, the Tigers (21-7) answered with a 16-2 run, to take their biggest lead of the night at 13:26 in the first half, 21-9.
Junior Symone Murray helped her team chip into the Fort Hays State lead, hitting a layup following a UCM timeout to kill the Tiger momentum. After a pair of free throws from Flax, Murray knocked down a trey to make it a five-point game. On the next possession, Erin Redmond swiped the ball, leading to a Flax jumper, capping of a 9-0 run for the Jennies and making it a 21-18 game with 11:10 in the first half.
After the Tigers pushed their lead back to eight with 8:50 until the half, Central Missouri completed a 24-4 run, turning an eight-point deficit into a 12-point advantage in just over five minutes of play. However, the Jens would score just one more field goal, from Murray, to close the half, as Fort Hays State closed on an 11-2 run to keep it close; the Jennies headed to the locker room with a 44-41 halftime lead. Junior Quinnecia Twine finished the half with nine points, hitting three treys during the Jennies big run in the first half.
Slowly building onto their lead in the opening minutes of the second half, the Jennies took a 57-47 double-digit lead at the 14:52 mark when Twine hit the jumper. Again Fort Hays State climbed back in it, scoring 12 of the next 17 points, including eight points in the paint to make it a one-possession game, 62-60, with 11:49 to play.
The scoring started to slow as both teams went cold for the next five minutes, until the Tigers quickly made their move. With a 69-66 Jennies lead and 4:31 on the clock, FHSU’s Traci Keyser knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, as the Tigers suddenly led by three, 72-69 with under four minutes to play. A pair of free throws stretched Fort Hays State’s lead to five, before Flax knocked down a three from the left corner to bring the Jennies back into the game, 74-72 with 2:57 to play.
The Tigers earned a trip to the free throw line, where they hit one of two, before Flax drew the foul, and hit a pair of free throws, making it a 75-74 Fort Hays State lead. FHSU had chances to close out the game from the charity stripe, but went 1-for-6 in their last three trips, while Lewis stepped up with seven seconds on the clock, hitting down one of two free throws to tie the score at 75-75. The Tigers couldn’t get a shot off in the closing seconds as the game went to overtime.
Lewis took control of the extra session, driving through the lane and getting to the charity stripe, where she shot a perfect 4-for-4 in the first minute of overtime. Lewis scored the first seven points of the overtime, putting the Jennies comfortably ahead with 3:13 to play. The Tigers hit just one field goal in overtime, as the Jennies claimed the 87-78 victory.
The Jennies increase their record to 2-0 in overtime games this season, and are an impressive 9-0 in games decided by five points or less this season.
Along with Lewis’ 27 points, a pair of Jennies recorded double-doubles, in Flax and senior Nicole Caddell. Flax finished with 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Caddell picked up 12 points and 10 boards. Twine finished with 13 points, going 5-of-8 from the field, and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
The Jennies advance to Sunday afternoon’s MIAA Tournament championship game, where they will take on fourth-seeded Emporia State, who upset top-seeded Washburn earlier on Saturday. The game is scheduled for approximately 3:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on the MIAA TV Network. Fans can also catch the game on 98.5 The Bar, 1450 KOKO, and online at www.warrensburgradio.com. Tickets are also still available at www.themiaa.com.