Trey Duffey (SO/Topeka, Kan.)’s career-best effort wasn’t enough to prevent the Kansas Wesleyan men from dropping their third consecutive game.
Duffey, a 6-foot-5 forward who played at Seaman High School, came off the bench and scored a game-best 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds – both career highs – in the Coyotes’ 75-68 Kansas Conference loss to Sterling Wednesday night inside Mabee Arena.
Duffey scored 16 the second half and had 10 of Wesleyan’s 12 points during one stretch. He was 7 of 12 from the field and 7 of 10 from the free throw line for the game.
“Trey Duffey was fantastic,” KWU coach Anthony Monson said. “He was the one guy that showed up tonight and produced, played hard, worked his tail off. He deserved everything he got tonight. We rode him down the stretch, that was his game the whole way because he was the man out there. It didn’t matter who was guarding him, he just kept going and going and going.”
It was a difficult night for the rest of the Coyotes, who shot 33.3 percent (24 of 72), allowed Sterling to shoot 40.6 percent (26 of 64) and lost the rebounding battle 49-42.
KWU scored the games’ first four points but Sterling tallied 17 of the next 19 and didn’t trail the rest of the way.
The Coyotes were down by as many as 11 points the first half but got within four twice the final 2:40. Sterling scored the final five points of the half, led 40-31 at the break and scored the first five of the second half for a 45-31 lead with 18:43 left.
KWU battled back, though. Dylan Hahn (SO/Yukon, Okla.)’s 3-pointer narrowed the deficit to 55-50 with 9:54 left but the Warriors answered a 14-4 burst and led 69-54 with 3:42 remaining.
The Coyotes made one final push, going on an 11-1 run – Tyus Jeffries (JR/Oklahoma City, Okla.)’ follow shot making it 72-68 with 43.3 seconds left. Sterling closed it out, though, by making three free throws the final 42 seconds.
“We didn’t execute what we talked about and played selfishly throughout the night for the most part,” Monson said. “They played much harder, had much more energy than we did for the entire game.”
Monson said playing with energy and intensity is only part of the equation.
“Playing well is not just playing hard,” he said. “You can play hard but if you can’t make shots and you can’t take care of the ball it’s pretty much emptiness. We had a group of guys that played hard but you’ve still got to be able to put the ball in the hole, you’ve still got to be able to make some plays. We didn’t do that until about the last five minutes.”
Jeffries scored 10 but was the only other Coyote in double figures. Gabe Mack (JR/Milwaukee, Wis.) finished with nine points.
“You’ve got to get your players to take ownership in things,” Monson said. “They have to look in the mirror and say ‘what can I do to get better?’ Just like coaches do after every loss, we say ‘what can we do here and what can we do to be better there?’
“We weren’t good tonight and started from the start with a lack of energy. … Right now, we just don’t have a very good rhythm going.”
JaMiah Haynes led Sterling with 17 points while Kenan Comley and Kolby Walker each had 14. Grant Olson, a 7-foot center and transfer from Baylor who didn’t play in the first game this season between the two teams, had 12 rebounds and blocked four shots.
KWU fell to 7-8 overall and 5-6 in the conference while Sterling improved to 5-11 and 3-10 with its third victory in the last four games
The Coyotes travel to McPherson Saturday for a 7 p.m. game inside the Sports Center. The Bulldogs defeated Friends 87-74 Wednesday and have won six in a row.