Kansas Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson has a simple reply after the Coyotes’ 74-67 win over (RV) McPherson on Saturday night at Mabee Arena.
“I hate playing zone,” Monson said. “But sometimes you just gotta make changes. We decided to change it up after our performance Thursday night (at Southwestern), but mixing it up helped us and caught McPherson a little off guard and it paid off.”
The Coyote zone helped hold McPherson to 36 percent shooting from the game, and 20.7 percent from 3-point range.
Faced with early foul trouble by Brayden White (JR/Topeka, Kan.) and Savian Edwards (FR/Topeka, Kan.), the Coyotes had to turn to Miles Koehler (SO/Athens, Texas) and Trey Gilbert (SO/Holcomb, Kan.) in the first half.
Koehler hit a huge 3 for the Coyotes giving KWU a 14-12 lead and sparking a 13-2 run that put the Coyotes up 24-14 with 7:21 left in the first. Gilbert also played well for the Coyotes off the bench hitting a bucket with 2:40 left in the first putting KWU up 31-22.
“I thought our subs were dynamite tonight,” Monson said. “Those guys stayed ready to go because you never know when your opportunity will come and you gotta be ready for it.”
The Coyotes would head into the half up nine after a 3 by Brendan Ganaway at the buzzer made it 36-27.
The Coyotes led by nine in the second half when Peyton Hatter (SO/Andover, Kan.) came alive offensively. After a bucket by Daekwon Gross (JR/Kansas City, Mo.) gave KWU a 40-29 lead, Hatter would bury a pair of 3’s sandwiched around a McPheron score to give Wesleyan a 46-31 lead with 15:57 left.
“Peyton hit some big shots for us,” Monson said. “His shots were big for us giving us that cushion so we didn’t feel that pressure on the defensive end as much.”
McPherson got back within six with 6:47 left, but Zay Wilson (SR/Austin, Texas)’s score for the Coyotes turned things back in Wesleyan’s favor.
A bucket by AJ Range (JR/Junction City, Kan.) got the Coyotes back up by 10 at 63-53 and the teams would go back and forth until McPherson got within four at 69-65 with 1:27 left.
Free throws by Ganaway, Hatter and White pushed the lead back out to seven for the Coyotes at 72-65, but McPherson’s free throws with 29 seconds left again got the Bulldogs within five.
Single charities by White and James Brooks (SR/Frontenac, Kan.) would seal the win for the Coyotes.
Range led the Coyotes with 16 points, while Hatter had 12 and Ganaway 11 as KWU was 26-of-63 shooting for 41.3 percent. Brooks led the Coyotes with nine rebounds helping KWU to a 41-36 advantage on the boards.
The final week of the regular season awaits KWU next week. Wesleyan’s road to the finish line is not easy, facing seventh-ranked Ottawa on Wednesday in Ottawa and No. 16 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Saturday at Mabee Arena in the regular season finale.