It’s something that Coach Anthony Monson has said time and again. Defense wins championships.
Kansas Wesleyan held Tabor to 35.2 percent shooting and 52 points as the No. 12 ranked Coyotes cruised to a 78-52 win over the Bluejays on Wednesday night at Mabee Arena.
“Our best offense is our defense,” Monson said. “Always has been, always will be. That’s when this team is really dangerous, especially with the depth where we can keep fresh guys in there and just keep running.”
Senior Trey Duffey (JR/Topeka, Kan.) agreed.
“We’ve been preaching on that if we’re going on defense, you know, it’s gonna lead us to great offense,” he said. “We talked about in film and we did everything that we had to do, we held them to the percentages that we wanted.”
The Coyotes forced 21 turnovers and turned them into 26 points, a lot coming on run outs after turnovers, as the Coyotes sped up the game after Tabor came out and tried to slow things down.
“We had to find a way to speed up the game tonight, it was a little slow and lethargic at the start. They really did a good job of just trying to hold the ball work for a really good shot and slow the game up,” Monson said.
Wesleyan also set a new school record for conference wins in a season, posting the 18th KCAC win of the season, surpassing the 17 wins by the 2007 team. KWU also set a new record for regular season wins with 24, and has its eyes on the overall single season win total of 28, also set by the 2007 team.
I’m really proud of these guys,” Monson said. “The 24 wins are the most regular season wins in school history and the 18 conference wins are the most in school history. This group just keeps adding to their totals and it’s a special group.”
Tabor led 13-11 with 11:25 left in the first half, but the Coyotes got things rolling after that.
A 14-2 run in favor of the Coyotes capped by Caden Hale (SO/Glenpool, Okla.)’s free throws with 5:49 left made it 25-15. KWU again led by 10 at 29-19 when an 11-0 run made it 40-19 with under a minute to go in the half.
Duffey played key roles on both ends of the floor making plays for the Coyotes.
“I think that’s just my role. You know, there always has to be that somebody, you know, that does that,” he said. “You know, it’s not always going to be in the stat sheet but somebody’s got to do it and you know, why not me?
“I really do enjoy it and I feel like that helps the team out a lot. Anything I can do to help this team get a win, you know, I want to do that so and I just loved I love I love my role and I love what I do.”
The Coyotes led 40-21 at the half.
Cory Kaplan (JR/Merritt Island, Fla.)’s bucket after a steal by Alex Littlejohn (SO/Newton, Kan.) with 13:34 left in the game pushed the Coyote lead to 20 at 54-34, and the Bluejays never got closer the rest of the way.
“We’re at our best when we’re in rhythm. And you know, we were good defensively, but I was a little disappointed in our transition game because I thought once we got the stops, we didn’t do a great job of spreading the floor, Monson said. “I think it’s just one of those games where it was a little sluggish at first, kind of a different tone that was set and then you know, we find a way to finish the half on a high note and then you know, just keep doing what we’re doing in the second half and you know, run away with it.”
Four players reached double figures in scoring as Duffey had 11 and Littlejohn recorded another double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Kaplan and Thurbil Bile (JR/Centennial, Colo.) added 10 each. The Coyotes were 28 of 57 from the field for 49.1 percent and won the rebounding battle 39-32.
The Coyotes close the regular season Saturday, hosting York. Game time is pushed back to 8 p.m. to accommodate the change over from Friday night’s Night with the Yotes fundraiser.