Kansas Wesleyan coach Ryan Showman knows his 2020-21 women’s basketball team is going to be a work in progress for a while.
There will be some good moments interspersed with some not so good. Tuesday night was a prime example.
The Coyotes stayed with a talented Bellevue (Neb.) team for a quarter, but a pair of lengthy scoring runs and Bruins’ relentless defense was the difference in a 77-54 non-conference loss inside Mabee Arena.
KWU trailed 18-17 in the final minute of the first quarter, but Bellevue went on an 11-0 run the continued well into the second quarter. Leading 39-28 at halftime Bellevue opened the third quarter with an 11-2 burst that made it 50-30 with 6½ minutes left in the period.
“All these girls that started have been in our program and it’s just a matter of them getting better and gaining experience and playing a different role and getting a little better at that,” Showman said of his team, which fell to 0-2 on the season. “They’re young and they haven’t played a lot of minutes as some of the others.
“It’s going to be a step by step process and every day we’ve got to take advantage of it and get better and take every opportunity we have.”
Bellevue, which is coached by former longtime Southwestern women’s coach Dave Denly, shot 49 percent from the floor (28 of 57) and limited the Coyotes to 34 percent shooting (21 of 62) that included 4 of 21 beyond the 3-point arc.
Bellevue was 11 of 20 from long range and made six 3-pointers the first half, forcing the Coyotes to shift into catch-up mode.
“Right now, at this point in the season we’re not really built for that,” Showman said. “We had to make some plays and we had some good looks (at the basket) and didn’t make them.”
Trailing 63-40 late in the third quarter KWU scored eight consecutive points and got within 63-48 with 7:47 left. Bellevue, though, closed it out by outscoring the Coyotes 14-6 the rest of the way.
“I thought offensively we executed and got some things, but you’ve got to credit Bellevue, I thought they did really great defensively,” Showman said. “Took us out of some of what we wanted to do and made shots tough. They get up 10, 12 points and they defend as well as they do and were able to make some shots to kill off any runs we had and whatever momentum we had going.”
Amanda Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.), who was playing her first game for the Coyotes after missing the opener at Midland, got off to a slow start shooting, but got untracked late in the second quarter and finished with a team-best 18 points – 13 in the second half – and also had seven rebounds. Kelcey Hinz (JR/Whitewater, Kan.) grabbed 12 rebounds and had eight points.
“This is her first game and I think she needed that first half to kind of get her going,” Showman said of Hill, who was 8 of 25 from the field. “I’m not too concerned with that, she’s going to be a big part of our offense and a big part of our success.”
Elexis Martinez led Bellevue (1-1) with 23 points while Jamie Winkler had 13 and seven rebounds.
Showman is optimistic his team will improve as the season progresses.
“With a team that’s got some inexperience at the starting spots I think that’s all you really want as a coach is just opportunities to improve and opportunities to learn from mistakes,” he said. “The key is getting back in practice and getting these things corrected and then transferring it into the game. That’s the biggest challenge that we have a team right now.”
KWU plays Central Christian at 1 p.m. Saturday in Mabee Arena in its game.