HILLSBORO – Head Coach Anthony Monson was all smiles after his team’s lopsided win over Tabor on Wednesday night in the Tabor College Gymnasium. Behind a balanced scoring output the Coyotes remained unbeaten in conference play after the 79-57 rout of the Tabor College Bluejays.
“It’s great to get a win, it’s even better to win when your team is buying in to what it is,” Monson said. “That’s a happy locker room right now and I’m happy for them.”
The Coyotes got a balanced scoring effort with three in double figures, paced by AJ Range (JR/Junction City, Kan.) and Brendon Ganaway (SR/Houston, Texas) with 13 each, while James Brooks (SR/Frontenac, Kan.) added 12. The Coyotes also got eight points from freshman Savian Edwards (FR/Topeka, Kan.) off the bench.
“Brendon Ganaway and Savian Edwards were huge tonight and are going to be huge all year,” Monson said. “James Brooks told Brendon (Tuesday) when he wants to be he’s the best player in the league. Tonight I think you saw flashes of that, he was just kind of magical at times.”
The win over Tabor is the fourth in a row for the Coyotes over the Bluejays, the longest streak in the series since KWU won six straight between 2006 and 2008.
Wesleyan’s hallmark, defense, was key in the win. The Coyotes forced 16 Tabor turnovers on 11 steals that turned into 33 points for the Coyotes. KWU also won the battle in points in the paint 36-26 and second chance points 14-9.
“We’re going to start on the defensive end and if we can figure out a way to put the ball in the basket, which we’ve been better at this year, we become really dangerous,” Monson said after his team shot 47.7 percent from the field in the game (31-of-65) after a 53.8 percent first half effort (14-of-26), building a 36-26 intermission lead.
The Coyotes jumped out to a 12-4 lead to open the game after Ganaway’s bucket with 16:21 left in the opening half. Tabor halved the lead to 16-12 with 13:03 to go before the Coyotes regained control taking a 28-16 lead on Peyton Hatter (SO/Andover, Kan.)’s 3 with 6:45 to go in the half.
Zay Wilson (SR/Austin, Texas)’s alley-oop dunk from Brayden White (JR/Topeka, Kan.)’s long pass put the Coyotes up by a half-high 36-21 margin with 1:41 left, but Tabor cut the margin to 36-26 at the break.
Wesleyan pushed its lead back out to 15 to open the second half on a bucket from Range and a 3 by Brooks that made it 41-26 with 19 minutes left. The Coyotes would hold a 10-plus point advantage until Tabor got back within eight at 49-41 with 13 minutes left.
A bucket by Ganaway would start a 12-1 run for the Coyotes capped by Range’s bucket with 8:02 left giving KWU a 61-42 lead.
A 3 by Edwards pushed Wesleyan’s lead out to 20 points with 7:49 left and Trey Gilbert (SO/Holcomb, Kan.)’s bucket with just over a minute left game KWU a game-high 24 point lead at 79-55.
The Coyotes did a great job holding Tabor’s leading scorer Tyler Zinn to just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Zinn had been averaging 23.2 points per game heading into Wednesday’s contest. The effort was part of Monson’s game plan.
“We came in with a game plan of how we were wanted to stop what I consider one of the best scorers in the league so far this year (Tyler Zinn),” Monson said. “We did a really, really good job of that.”
KWU also limited Tabor to 38.5 percent shooting from the field which included 5-of-27 from 3-point range for 18.5 percent.
The Coyotes got an addition nine points from Hatter, who also had seven rebounds, while Range added eight boards helping the Coyotes to a 38-30 advantage on the glass. Ganaway added seven assists and three steals.
Monson was pleased with his team’s effort Wednesday.
“I’m just really, really proud of the effort my guys put out tonight and you could just tell it was selfless basketball and they loved playing for each other and there was a lot of energy and excitement,” he said. “That’s what I want my team to be.”
Wesleyan faces another road challenge on Saturday in Wichita against the Friends Falcons at 7 p.m. inside the Garvey Center. The Falcons won on a last second shot 74-72 over McPherson on Wednesday night.