NORTH NEWTON – Ryan Showman got precisely what he was wanting from his Kansas Wesleyan women’s basketball team.
A pivotal 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter and ferocious defensive effort from start to finish propelled the Coyotes to a gritty 57-49 Kansas Conference victory over Bethel on Saturday night at Thresher Gymnasium.
The bounce-back performance was badly needed after a 58-44 loss to archrival Bethany on Tuesday inside Mabee Arena.
Tied 45-45 with under 5 minutes left in Saturday’s game the Coyotes went on their decisive burst – Kelcey Hinz (JR/Whitewater, Kan.)’s basket making it 54-45 with 1:24 left. Mia Needles (JR/Highland Ranch, Colo.)’ 3-pointer at the 2:43 mark – her only basket of the game – extended the lead to 52-45.
Bethel got within 54-49 on an Alex Bearup 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining, but KWU closed it out with three free throws the final 41 seconds.
“We talked about having urgency today coming into this game, something we lacked on Tuesday,” Showman said on his postgame radio show. “We talked about if we can have urgency, play every possession with that urgency, we’re going to find ourselves in a good spot.
“That second half the grittiness, the resiliency kind of showed who we are. I thought we did a lot of the little things at an extremely high level.”
Amanda Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) scored a game-high 21 points that included 4 of 5 shooting from 3-point range and five rebounds. Hinz and Courtney Brockhoff (JR/Hiawatha, Kan.) added nine points apiece – Brockhoff’s total a career-best.
The Coyotes (6-4 overall, 5-2 KCAC) limited Bethel to 28.8 percent shooting (19 of 66) and shot 43 percent themselves (22 of 51), which helped them overcome a 48-28 rebounding deficit.
“Courtney was great, she did a of really great things,” Showman said. “Amanda Hill … was Amanda Hill. She made plays that a senior All-American would make.”
The Coyotes also benefitted from the return of starting point guard Gabby Mureeba (SO/Allen, Texas), who had missed the previous two games with an injury. She finished with six points, six assists, three rebounds and a steal.
“I felt like Gabby had a hand in every single point in that run,” Showman said. “She was absolutely fantastic – great, great night to get her back.”
Hinz battled foul problems much of the game and had 8 rebounds to go along with the 9 points.
Bethel’s standout center Abby Schmidt also dealt with foul issues and finished with 9 points and 14 rebounds. Schmidt did not score in the second half (0 of 4) and only had four rebounds in the final 20 minutes. Jasmine Jones also scored 9 for Threshers, who had no one score in double figures.
KWU led by seven twice the first half, but Bethel (4-4, 3-3 KCAC) ended the half on a 6-0 run and trailed 28-26 at the break.
Down 32-30 midway through the third quarter the Coyotes scored eight of the next nine points for a 38-33 advantage. Bethel, though, closed the quarter on a 6-1 run and the game was tied at 39 entering the final 10 minutes.
“I’m just really happy with the way we responded from a very disappointing game,” Showman said. “How we responded shows a lot about who we are as a team. We showed a lot tonight.”
The Coyotes’ next scheduled game is against Tabor at 5 p.m., December 5 inside Mabee Arena.
“If we could maybe sneak in another game, I’d be all for that – nothing’s worked out yet,” Showman said. “But I’m definitely not going to turn down a full week to get ready for Tabor.”