WINFIELD – Ryan Showman and the Kansas Wesleyan women’s basketball team know that they’re going to get every team’s best shot in the final stretch of the Kansas Conference season.
Thursday’s contest with Southwestern was no different. The Coyotes had to hold off a later charge from the Southwestern Moundbuilders to come away with a 72-67 victory at Stewart Fieldhouse. The game was played Thursday after inclement weather on Wednesday forced the games’ postponement.
“Tonight was everything we thought it would be. We know we are going to get everyone’s best shot from here on out,” Showman said. “I knew coming here was going to be tough. I thought Coach Corley really had her kids ready to go and they hit tough shot after tough shot and they did everything they had to do tonight to try to knock us off.
“We just made a couple more plays.”
Down the stretch, those plays came from senior Courtney Heinen (SR/Axtell, Kan.).
After Saturday’s career performance, Heinen showed no signs of letting up, or big game hangover, burying a 3 with 1:40 left to put Wesleyan up four and hitting four free throws down the stretch to essentially seal the win for the Coyotes.
“Courtney did senior things again tonight,” Showman said. “She hit a big shot and made free throws down the stretch to seal the game for us.”
The decisive spurt for the Coyotes came in the second quarter. A 14-2 run for Wesleyan turned a 19-16 deficit into a 30-21 lead with 4:20 to go in the quarter. Haleigh Bradford (SR/Schertz, Texas) scored 10 of her 15 points on the night during the run that was started by a bucket by Lauren Flowers (SO/Overland Park, Kan.).
Amanda Hill (JR/Rossville, Kan.)’s triple with 2:30 left put the Coyotes up 10 at 33-23 and the Coyotes carried a 35-29 lead into the half.
“Haleigh was awesome tonight. I told (Assistant) Coach (Carolyn) Jenkins tonight at halftime that she’s on another level right now and we gotta match that energy if we’re gonna win this game and we were able to do some of that,” Showman said. “She was just fantastic in the second quarter, chasing down rebounds and knocking down shots, keeping plays going.”
Four straight points to start the third quarter put the Coyotes up 10 again at 39-29, but KWU could not push its lead any bigger.
Southwestern cut the lead to five four times in the last four minutes of the quarter, but each time the Coyotes had an answer, including closing the quarter on a 5-0 run on a 3 by Kayla Vallin (SR/Aurora, Colo.) and a bucket by Flowers.
Wesleyan’s lead got trimmed to four with 8:15 left, but the Coyotes responded again pushing the lead back out to seven on a free throw by Kelcey Hinz (SO/Whitewater, Kan.) with 6:05 to go in the game.
A triple by Bradford gave the Coyotes a 65-58 lead after Southwestern had cut it to three, but the Moundbuilders pushed one more time, cutting the difference to a point with 1:55 left at 65-64, setting the stage for Heinen’s 3 that put the Coyotes up 68-64 with 1:40 to go.
“We don’t get rattled in those pressure situations. It’s a sign of a veteran team,” Showman said. “Everyone came in and played well tonight and we got quality minutes out of everyone that played.”
Wesleyan jumped out to a 7-0 lead to open the game, but Southwestern came back with its own 9-0 run to take a 9-7 lead with five minutes left in the first. A bucket by Bradford tied it but Southwestern scored the next four to take a 13-9 lead with 2:39 to go.
Hinz would hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to 13-12 after a quarter.
Heinen led all scorers in the game with 20 points, while Hill had 18 and Bradford 15. Hinz added eight along with 15 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. The Coyotes were 27 of 58 shooting for 46.6 percent after a 50 percent effort in the second half (14 of 28).
The Coyotes have a quick turnaround, hosting McPherson on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mabee Arena.