A lethargic first half and Bethany’s Kansas Conference-best defense were more than the Kansas Wesleyan women’s team could overcome.
Bethany built a 19-point halftime lead, increased the advantage to 27 points in the third quarter and held on for a 58-44 victory over the Coyotes Tuesday night at Mabee Arena.
The loss drops KWU to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the KCAC. Bethany improved to 5-2 and 4-2.
Wesleyan shot 26 percent from the field the first half (7 of 27) and never recovered after the Swedes broke a 6-6 tie with a 19-3 run that gave them a 25-9 lead with 7½ minutes left in the second quarter. Bethany ended the half with an 8-1 surge and led 37-18 at the break.
The Swedes scored the first eight points of the third quarter and led 45-18 with 5:47 left in the third quarter. KWU outscored Bethany 26-21 in the second half, but the damage was done.
“I told the girls in the locker room if we could have started the game the way we finished it in terms of effort and energy and hustle and all those little non-basketball things that are so important it would been a lot different outcome,” Coyote coach Ryan Showman said.
Bethany entered game giving up an average of 54.7 points per game while the Coyotes were scoring 73.1 points.
“We just didn’t have that spark to start out and I thought Bethany did a good job of jumping on that late in the first quarter and early in the second,” Showman said. “The second half I thought we had some good adjustments defensively and were able to guard them a little bit better. We went with a different offensive style and kind of got to the basket a little bit and got to the free throw line.
“But at the end of the day, against a good team like Bethany you have to play for 40 minutes with the same type of effort and energy and we just didn’t have that tonight.”
The Coyotes shot 28.8 percent (17 of 59) from the field for the game that included 3 of 20 from beyond the 3-point arc. They were outrebounded 50-41 with the Swedes grabbing 15 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second chance points. Bethany outscored KWU 32-22 in the paint.
“They held us 30 points under our average,” Showman said. “They were physical in the paint and that was something we needed to adjust to a little better. I thought we left some opportunities out there the first half.
“But you’ve got to give credit to Bethany and their defense. That was the best halfcourt defense we’ve seen all year.”
Amanda Hill and Kelcey Hinz combined for 33 of the Coyotes’ 44 points, each finishing with a double-double – Hill 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Hinz 16 points and 15 rebounds. She also blocked five shots.
Wesleyan played its second consecutive game without injured starting point guard Gabby Mureeba. She was replaced by LaMyah Ricks.
“The thing I love about LaMyah is the resiliency,” Showman said. “She’s a tough kid, she’ll be fine, she’ll learn from this and she’ll be better for it.”
Bethany shot 36.2 percent (25 of 69) for the game, but was 15 of 33 (45.5 percent) the first half. The Swedes were 2 of 18 from deep for the contest.
Hannah Ferguson led Bethany with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Diamonique Kennedy had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Vasha Moore 11 points and eight rebounds.
KWU is at home again Saturday when Bethel comes to Mabee Arena for a 5 p.m. conference game. The Threshers (4-3, 4-2 KCAC) lost on the road to Sterling 78-66 Tuesday night.
“Bethel’s playing well, too, it’s going to be a challenge,” Showman said. “But I’m really excited for these girls to just mentally shut down and take Wednesday and Thursday to themselves and their families (for Thanksgiving).
“We’ll get back to work on Friday with a game plan and will be ready to go.”