WICHITA – Kansas Wesleyan’s final road game of the 2020-21 regular season was a good one.
A fast start propelled the Coyotes to an early advantage, but Wesleyan had to hang on, and connect on clutch free throws down the stretch to hold off the Friends Falcons 69-64 on Wednesday night at the Garvey Center.
The 3-pointers were falling early and often for the Coyotes to start as KWU’s first nine points came via a trio of long-rangers as KWU built a 9-2 lead with just under 18 minutes to go after Easton Hunter (FR/Colwich, Kan.) buried the third triple.
Wesleyan extended its lead out to 14 points at 16-2 with 15:06 left on a bucket from AJ Range (SR/Junction City, Kan.).
Back came the Falcons though, cutting KWU’s lead to three at 18-15 with 10:50 to go in the half, capping a 13-2 run for Friends. Range scored to get the Coyotes going again, as KWU pushed its lead back out to 11 at 26-15 on a free throw by CJ Weathers (JR/Allen, Texas) with 6:20 to go.
A 14-2 run by Friends to end the half would give the Falcons a 29-28 lead at recess time.
Range gave the Coyotes a 41-33 lead with 15:54 left in the game as the Coyotes opened the second half on a 13-4 run.
A 3-pointer by Tyus Jeffries (JR/Oklahoma City, Okla.) put the Coyotes up nine with 11 minutes to go. Friends cut the lead to four at 50-46 with 7:39 to go, but a free throw by Hunter and a bucket by Gabe Mack (JR/Milwaukee, Wis.) put the Coyotes up seven again with 6:38 left.
Friends got within two with four minutes to go, but the Coyotes would get a bucket from Tyus Jeffries to go back up four.
The Falcons were within three again with 45 seconds left, but the Coyotes got more clutch charity tossing from Mack and freshman Micah Lovett (FR/Tulsa, Okla.) to push the lead back out to 67-61 with 18 seconds left.
After a Friends 3-pointer, the Coyotes got a pair of game-clinching free throws by Hunter to give KWU the 69-65 win.
Mack led the Coyotes with 16 points, while Range and Trey Duffey (SO/Topeka, Kan.) had 11 each. KWU was 22 of 53 shooting for 41.5 percent. Range pulled down eight rebounds and Weathers had seven as the Coyotes dominated the rebounding totals 41-30.
Wesleyan’s wild finish to the regular season continues on Thursday as KWU hosts the rival Swedes at 7 p.m. inside Mabee Arena. KWU closes the regular season on Saturday, hosting Avila at 2 p.m.
The KCAC playoffs begin Monday with first round games at the higher seeded team’s home site.