Fort Hays St. stuns No. 11 Washburn
Fort Hays State Athletics
For the second consecutive Saturday, Fort Hays State pulled off a stunning upset over a ranked opponent. This week's victim was the No. 11 Washburn Lady Blues, who FHSU had not defeated since December 3, 1994, a span of 16 games. Led by another strong outing from the duo of Crista Bechard and Traci Keyser, the Lady Tigers snapped that skid with a 68-59 victory.
Fort Hays State led almost the entire game, with Washburn taking two 1-point leads in the first half. The Lady Tigers pushed the lead to 28-16 on a 3-pointer by Kimber Weiser with 6:24 left in the half, but Washburn came right back with four consecutive 3-point field goals of their own to tie it at 28 with 3:14 remaining. Back-to-back buckets from Kara McFarland followed by a layup from Bechard stretched the lead out to 35-31 at the break.
Washburn would tie the game up twice in the opening minutes of the second half before Fort Hays State would begin to pull away. Bechard scored eight points on a 10-2 run by the Lady Tigers which put them up 47-39 with 11:30 to go. The Lady Blues refused to go away, and fought back to within two after back-to-back 3-pointers from Laura Kinderknecht and Megan Lassley made the score 59-57 with 1:44 remaining.
Keyser would not led the game get any closer, nailing a 3-pointer of her own on the next FHSU possession to push the lead back to 62-57. After a defensive stop, Keyser was fouled and sent to the free throw line where she knocked down a pair that gave the Lady Tigers a 64-57 advantage with just under a minute to play. Four free throws from Rhys Pihl in the final 39 seconds sealed the upset and put the final margin at 68-59.
Bechard led the way for Fort Hays State (11-9, 8-8 MIAA) with 18 points on 6-15 shooting, which included 4-5 from long range. Keyser scored 16 points, including 7-8 from the free throw line where she leads the MIAA. Kara McFarland hit a couple of big 3-point baskets of her own and finished with 8 points and tied her career-high with 11 rebounds.
Washburn (15-4, 11-4) was led by 18 points from Laura Kinderknecht and a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds from Megan Lassley.
The victory now gives FHSU two consecutive wins against ranked opponents following a 24-game losing streak against Top 25 teams. The win was also coach Tony Hobson's first against Washburn, leaving Emporia State as the only MIAA team that he has not defeated since taking over at Fort Hays State. The current five-game winning streak is also the second-longest of Hobson's tenure, behind a six game winning streak to open the 2009-10 season.
The Lady Tigers have now pulled themselves into the mix in the middle of the MIAA conference standings. They will look to build upon their two-game road winning streak starting on Thursday (Feb. 10) at Truman.