By BEN JOHNSON
Carrington Fox enjoyed the best day of her Northeastern State career on Dec. 18 against Arkansas-Monticello. The 5-foot-11 junior and former Union High School standout needed only 23 minutes to tally 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in NSU's 79-41 rout.
Now the hard part arrives for Fox. If she is to duplicate those career-best statistics, she'll have to do it against Fort Hays State's twin towers of Kate Lehman and Katelyn Edwards in a MIAA clash tonight at Jack Dobbins Field House at 5:30.
Lehman, a sophomore from Newton, Kan., stands six feet, four inches tall while leading the Tigers at 17.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Edwards, a 6-foot junior, isn't far off Lehman's totals with 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds.
"(Lehman) is kind of their go-to on offense," NSU coach Randy Gipson said. "She's a true post player and can score over the top of the defense.
"Edwards is their point person on their (full-court) press. She's a very good, athletic player. A lot of what she does, offensive-wise, comes off of what she does on the press."
It'll be up to Fox, Melissa Jones and Sarah Green to limit the production of Lehman and Edwards, Gipson said.
"It will take a great effort by Carrington and others inside," he said. "And we need a great team effort defensively."
Pitting NSU against Fort Hays State also showcases two very different styles. The RiverHawks would prefer a slow-it-down, grind-it-out game while Fort Hays State gets up and down the floor at a high rate of speed.
When asked if it was a game of contrasting styles, Gipson said, "yeah, probably so. We would prefer a halfcourt-type game. A big key will be how we handle their full-court press. Their game feeds off of how successful their press is."
Through 10 games this season (all of which have been Fort Hays State victories), the Tigers are plus-32 in scoring margin — good enough to lead the Division II hoops in that category.
"All their numbers speak for themselves," Gipson said of 10th-ranked Fort Hays State, which averages 79.8 points per game. "They are obviously having a great year."
For the RiverHawks (6-4, 2-0 MIAA), it will be their first time out since mid December against Arkansas-Monticello. Gipson, though, is too worried about his club working its way back into shape.
"This team is good at practicing, and we've been back doing that for a week," he said. "...With the qualities of practices we've had, we should be able to play the game right."
Heading into the second half of the season, NSU will be without reserve guard Katy Harsen. Gipson confirmed that Harsen — who is no longer listed on the roster on the team's website — was no longer with the RiverHawks, but he declined any further comment on the matter.
In eight games this season, Harsen was averaging 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
In the men's game between NSU and Fort Hays State, it'll be a matchup of two 2-0 teams in MIAA play.
The Tigers (8-2, 2-0) enter with four players who average scoring in double figures, led by Dwayne Brunson, who posts 15.7 a game. Craig Nicholson (12.6 points, 6.9 assists) has also caught the eye of NSU coach Larry Gipson.
"He is as good a freshman as there is in this league," Gipson said of the 5-foot-8 point guard from Wichita, Kan.
The RiverHawks (9-1, 2-0) will make their first appearance since winning the QU Holiday tournament with a 72-71 victory over Truman State in Quincy, Ill., on Dec. 19.
"I don't know how sharp we'll be or how well we'll execute," Gipson said, "but that's something we'll have to fight our way through."