McPHERSON – So much for any concerns about a letdown.
No. 17 Kansas Wesleyan raced to an early lead, rode the double-figure scoring of three starters and two reserves and never looked back in an 86-72 Kansas Conference victory over McPherson on Saturday night inside the Sport Center.
It was the Coyotes’ 10th consecutive victory, raised their record 17-1, 11-1 in the KCAC and came on the heels of their marquee 83-77 victory over No. 4 Southwestern on Wednesday in Mabee Arena.
“This team is understanding where they’re at right now,” coach Anthony Monson said on his postgame radio show. “I think it showed a growth in maturity level tonight to come off such a big win and go on the road to a team that’s above .500 and has played some very good teams very well. They came in here and handled their business and I’m really proud of that.”
Alex “Double-Double” Littlejohn led the charge with 17 points and 14 rebounds – the 12th time this season he’s finished with double figure points and rebounds in a game. He was 8 of 12 from the field. Izaiah Hale (SO/Wichita, Kan.) had 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting and had six rebounds off the bench, Jun Murdock (JR/Wichita, Kan.) 14 points and six assists, and Easton Hunter (JR/Colwich, Kan.) and Trey Duffey (JR/Topeka, Kan.) 12 points apiece. Hunter was 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc and Duffey 4 of 5 from the field and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
The Coyotes shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58), including 10 of 21 from deep, were 12 of 15 at the free throw line and easily won the rebounding battle 40-22.
“We’re starting to get the right guys shooting the right shots,” Monson said. “We’ve got to find our shooters and they got to be aggressive and knock them down. The only thing I’ll say is we’ve got to find a way to put together consecutive stops on the defensive end because we’re really good when we can do that. We can get out and run.”
KWU bolted to a 15-4 lead at the start and led 46-36 at intermission. The Coyotes made seven 3-pointers in the half, Hale with three and Hunter two.
McPherson (10-8, 5-7 KCAC) got within six (48-42) with 18:19 left but Wesleyan responded with a decisive 22-10 run that made it 70-52 with 12½ minutes remaining.
McPherson shot 41.7 percent from deep (10 of 24) but 40.6 percent overall (28 of 69). KWU outscored the Bulldogs 42-26 in the paint and the Coyotes’ reserves outscored their McPherson counterparts 36-16.
Jamil Hardaway led the Bulldogs with 16 points while Owen Braxmeyer and Jerome Mabry had 12 each.
Game two of the Coyotes’ four-game road swing will be Wednesday in Lindsborg when they play rival Bethany at 8 p.m. in Hahn Gymnasium. The Swedes (9-8, 5-7) lost to Friends 87-84 in overtime Saturday in Lindsborg – their fifth consecutive loss.
KWU defeated Bethany 62-54 November 16 in Mabee Arena in the first meeting.
“Bethany played us tough and they’re going to continue to play as tough,” Monson said. “They’re big and physical, they create a lot of matchup problems for us. We’re going to have to rise to the challenge, especially at their place.”