Courtney Heinen (SR/Axtell, Kan.) wasn’t happy with her slow start this season and the first three quarters of Kansas Wesleyan’s non-conference women’s game Friday night against Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) was essentially more of the same.
Heinen, though, flipped the proverbial switch in the fourth quarter and every single light came on. She scored 20 of her game- and career-best 28 points, including 17 of the final 21, as the Coyotes hung on for a hard-fought 84-77 non-conference victory at Mabee Arena.
Heinen made two 3-pointers, a two-point field goal and was 12 of 14 from the free throw line the final 10 period – all 12 free throws coming in the final 2:51.
She was 0 for 7 from the field and didn’t score in the Coyotes’ 69-61 victory over Bellevue on Wednesday, and entered the fourth quarter Friday with eight points.
“The last few games I’ve been struggling a lot with shooting and everything,” said Heinen, who averaged 10.0 points last season but just 6.0 through the first three games. “I just came out tonight and I was like ‘it’s going to change.’ It’s my mindset, I guess.”
Trailing 67-66 with just under 4 minutes left, Heinen made four free throws and Kelcey Hinz (SO/Whitewater, Kan.) two, giving the Coyotes a 72-67 advantage with 1:53 remaining.
An Embry-Riddle basket made it 72-69 but Heinen took over from there. She scored eight consecutive points – a field goal and six free throws – that gave the Coyotes an 80-75 lead with 22 seconds left. She made her last two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.
Heinen was 15 of 17 from the line and 5 of 13 from the field, including 3 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc, for the game.
“Fouling, I guess,” Heinen said with laugh when asked what got her going. “It got me to the free throw line and I was just focused when I got there and knocked them down.”
“We’ve been waiting for that, she’s kind of gotten off to a slow start,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said. “We’ve had people around her pick her up.
“I told Coach (Carolyn) Jenkins at halftime this is the half where Courtney comes back, this is the half that Courtney Heinen re-emerges and takes over. I thought she did a great job of attacking (the basket) and a great job of finishing at the free throw line. She played really, really well down the stretch for us.”
Heinen’s heroics helped the Coyotes overcome a 44-31 rebounding deficit that included 20 Embry-Riddle offensive rebounds and 20 second chance points.
“They had 13 offensive rebounds at halftime and seven the second half,” Showman said. “That’s better … but we’ve got to be better about that moving forward, no doubt.”
Haleigh Bradford (SR/Schertz, Texas) added 19 points, three assists and three steals, and Hinz 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Coyotes. KWU shot 42.3 percent (22 of 52) and made 31 of 39 free throw attempts.
The game was tied at 33 at halftime. Jenna Knudson made three consecutive 3-pointers, fueling an 8-0 Eagle run and gave them a 47-41 lead with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
The Coyotes, though, closed the quarter on a 12-2 surge and led 53-49 going into the final period.
Embry-Riddle was 9 of 35 from 3-point range for the game after going 6 of 20 the first half.
“We didn’t really point out a lot of shooters on film, they were drivers and we weren’t going to push up on them right away,” Heinen of KWU’s perimeter defense. “Once they started knocking them down then we had to adjust.”
“Their zone offense was a lot of movement and we were out of position trying to talk and rotate,” Showman said. “You have to give them credit, they did a heck of a job with a game plan coming in. I thought they did a really good job but at the end of the day we made just enough plays to beat a really good team.”
Danae Ruiz led Embry-Riddle with 24 points while Knudson had 13 and Susie Reynoso 11. The Eagles shot 37.3 percent (28 of 75) and were 12 of 14 at the foul line.
The Coyotes play Haskell at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Lawrence in their next game. Kansas Conference play begins Saturday, November 16 with a home game against preseason favorite Sterling, starting at 5 p.m. in Mabee Arena.