Coyote women hold on to beat Bethel 63-60

NORTH NEWTON – It was almost the one that got away.Fortunately for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes, it wasn’t.KWU led 37-25 with eight minutes left in the third quarter, but Bethel came back and took a lead in the fourth, but the Coyotes regrouped and retook the lead and hung on for a 63-60 win over the Threshers on Wednesday night at Thresher Gym.We will take it. That was the big challenge for us coming off of the weekend (and the loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan), how were we going to respond,” Wesleyan head coach Ryan Showman said. “We showed our character tonight. We showed who we are and who we can be, and I am just so proud of this team right now.”Bethel took its first lead of the night on a 3-pointer by Josie Stupey with 3:57 left that made it 56-55 Threshers. Odessa Ozuna scored for the Coyotes on the next possession to put the Coyotes up 57-56, but again Bethel took the lead with 2:13 left.Wesleyan got a bucket by Angel Lee to reclaim the lead and LaMyah Ricks’ bucket with 1:26 left gave the Coyotes a 61-58 cushion. The Threshers got within a point at 61-60, but Jill Stephens knocked down a pair of free throws with 12.4 seconds left to put the Coyotes up 63-60.Bethel took the ball and the Coyote defense nearly had a steal with 2.4 left, but Bethel retained the ball and their shot to tie it was off and the Coyotes held on for the win.It was a slow start for both teams, as it was 4-2 Coyotes four minutes into the first quarter, but Kourtney Kaufman’s 3-pointer put the Coyotes up 5 at 7-2 with 5:13 to go in the period. Later free throws by Brooke Strine put KWU up seven at 12-5 and another triple by Kaufman with 1:52 left in the first put KWU up eight at 15-7.“Kourtney continues to come in and make plays when we need them. She’s starting to become more of a regular with that, that’s awesome and I love that for her,” Showman said. “She is going to keep getting those opportunities as long as she keeps producing.”The Coyotes led 17-11 after one period.A pair of Hampton Williams free throws with 7:07 left in the second put the Coyotes up 25-16. Williams returned to action for the first time since November 18 on Wednesday night, bouncing back from injury.“We wanted to come in and sprinkle her in a little bit tonight and we were able to do that,” Showman said. “She’s just going to keep getting better and she’s going to help us.”Bethel trimmed the Coyote lead to six at the half making it 31-25.A triple by Stephens and a three-point play by Strine to open the second half put the Coyotes up 37-25 with 9:11 left in the third. The Coyotes couldn’t break it open though as Bethel started their rally.KWU led 47-36 with 3:18 left in the third when the Threshers when on an 8-0 run to cut the difference to three at 47-44 just before the end of the quarter. A bucket by Catherine Bowman to close the quarter put the Coyotes up five after three quarters.Bethel tied it at 51 with 7:07 to go, but free throws by Strine kept the lead in favor of the Coyotes and another Strine bucket put the Coyotes up four with 5:05 left before Bethel came back and took the lead with 3:56 left.Stephens paced the Coyotes with 13 points while Kaufman and Strine had 11 each as KWU was 22 of 58 from the field for 37.9 percent, but knocked down seven 3-pointers and were 12 of 15 at the line in the game. The Coyotes also overcame 24 turnovers in the win. Bowman had eight rebounds and Stephens seven to help lead the Coyotes to a 45-31 advantage on the boards.“I still think our best basketball is ahead of us and this is a great step forward,” Showman said.Wesleyan starts the second half of the KCAC schedule on Saturday, as the Coyotes head to Wichita to take on Friends at 5 p.m. at the Garvey Center. Friends won the first match-up 84-61 on November 15 behind a monstrous fourth quarter performance by the Falcons. Friends beat Evangel 79-69 on Wednesday night in Springfield, Mo.