The 3-point shot just wasn’t falling for the Kansas Wesleyan Men’s Basketball team, and the Coyotes needed a spark, trailing by 11 with eight minutes left.
Then the spark came. A bucket by AJ Range (SR/Junction City, Kan.), and a 3-pointer by Dylan Hahn (SO/Yukon, Okla.), the first of the game for the Coyotes with 6:39 left sparked a 13-0 run for Wesleyan, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Dordt Defenders hung on for a wild 83-80 win on Tuesday night at Mabee Arena.
“After Friday night, I was looking for us to come out and compete tonight against a great team in Dordt, who is receiving votes and returns four starters from a year ago,” Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson said. “Even though we made some mistakes down the stretch, we battled hard to the final buzzer, and I was pleased to see that out of the team.”
Even though shots weren’t falling, particularly from long range, the Coyotes found other ways to be successful, crashing the boards and getting to the free throw line efficiently.
“We rebounded the ball a lot better tonight (41-30 advantage), and we played hard,” Monson said.
Hahn provided another big spark for the Coyotes burying a triple right in front of his bench and was fouled. He was mobbed by his teammates after the play, and would go on to give the Coyotes a 72-67 lead with 3:20 to go on the four-point play.
“We definitely missed Dylan the other night (vs. Manhattan Christian),” Monson said. “He’s been really good for us in practice after an up and down freshman year last year, and he came back and has put in the work and is only going to get better from here.”
Wesleyan built an 11-7 lead early on over the Defenders, but Dordt would take a 24-21 lead on a triple by Jesse Jansma with 10:07 left in the first half. The Coyotes battled back taking a 28-26 lead on a steal and dunk by Daekwon Gross (SR/Kansas City, Mo.) that electrified the crowd.
Dordt came back and took a 40-34 lead just before the half, but a bucket by AJ Range just as the half expired would send the teams into the locker rooms with Dordt leading by four.
Free throws by Range tied the game at 40-all with 18:39 left in the game, but a 10-0 run by Dordt gave the Defenders a 50-40 lead with 16:26 to go.
Wesleyan got within seven after a free throw by Tyus Jeffries (JR/Oklahoma City, Okla.), but Dordt pushed back and extended its lead to 56-43 with 12:32 left.
The teams traded baskets back and forth until the run by the Coyotes started.
The Coyotes got another huge game from Range with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Hahn added 17 and Jeffries 12. KWU was 31-of-67 from the field for 46.3 percent for the game, but was just 4-of-22 from 3-point range (18.2 percent). Brayden White (SR/Topeka, Kan.) dished out six assists in the game.
Things don’t get any easier for the Coyotes this weekend. Wesleyan welcomes No. 7 ranked (in the final NAIA Division II poll last year) Morningside and Heart of America Conference opponent Benedictine for a weekend classic on Friday and Saturday at Mabee Arena.
KWU takes on Morningside on Friday night at 6 p.m., and then faces Benedictine at 5 p.m. Saturday. Southwestern is the fourth team in the classic, and will precede Wesleyan’s games each day. KWU opens conference play next Wednesday at Southwestern.