Kansas Wesleyan coach Ryan Showman looked at the stat sheet at halftime and couldn’t believe what he saw.
His team made an astounding 10 of 20 3-point shots the first half against Oklahoma Wesleyan and they were the big reason why the Coyotes had a 44-32 lead.
“I knew we hit some shots, but I looked at coach (Carolyn) Davis and said ‘holy you-know-what, we made 10 3-pointers,'” Showman said.
Davis, though, brought him back to reality with her response.
“The first thing she said was ‘we can’t live and die by that, we can’t fall in love with that the second half because we’re not doing that again.’ ”
Davis was correct, but the Coyotes shot well inside the arc, continued to play solid defense and held on for a 79-66 Saturday afternoon at Mabee Arena.
KWU improved to 13-6 overall, 11-2 in the KCAC, with its third consecutive victory and second of the season over the Eagles. Oklahoma Wesleyan fell to 12-7 and 8-6.
Despite the victory, KWU remains in third place in the conference after Tabor upset No. 7 Sterling 72-60 Saturday night in Sterling. It was the Warriors’ first loss of the season and dropped them 13-1 in the KCAC. Tabor’s second at 12-2 and KWU half a game back.
The Coyotes were 5 of 13 from long range the second half, but 7 of 13 closer to the basket, had 13 assists on 26 field goals and committed 15 turnovers to OKWU’s 17.
KWU finished the game with 15 3-pointers (15 of 33), two shy of the school record of 17 set against Bethany in 2010. The Coyotes shot 45.6 percent overall (26 of 57) and limited OKWU to 38 percent shooting (24 of 63), including five 3-pointers (5 of 20).
“I thought the girls did a really good job of executing there in the second half and not settling (for 3-pointers) because we were on fire in the first half,” Showman said.
Haleigh Bradford (JR/Schertz, Texas) led the Coyotes’ attack with a career-high 21 points that included 4 of 7 shooting from 3-point range. Kayla Kivinski (SR/Port Richey, Fla.) added 20 points and made 5 of 6 treys. Gabbie Miller (SR/Kiefer, Okla.) added 10 points and had one 3-pointer. Virja Lewis (SO/Kansas City, Kan.) grabbed 10 rebounds and scored five points.
Danae Goodwin, the lone returning starter for OKWU, had 12 points, Makayla Melton 11 and Amanda Hart 10.
Seven 3-pointers – three from Kivinski – fueled a blazing start as the Coyotes raced to a 27-14 lead after the first 10 minutes.
They continued to pull away and led 38-21 with 6½ minutes left in the half before Oklahoma Wesleyan rallied. The Eagles scored 11 unanswered points and trailed 38-32 with 1:37 left, but KWU responded with the final six points of the half on Lauren Flowers (FR/Overland Park, Kan.)’ 3-point play and Courtney Heinen (JR/Axtell, Kan.)’s 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, giving the Coyotes a 44-32 lead at intermission.
“Those points were so, so huge because I felt like whatever momentum we lost, that just swung the pendulum back for us at halftime and going into the third quarter,” Showman said.
The Coyotes continued the run after the break, scoring the first 17 points of the third quarter and led 61-32 with 4:52 left in the period – the final three points coming on a Bradford trey.
It was KWU’s last points of the quarter, though, as OKWU closed on a 9-0 run and trailed 64-43 entering the final period.
The Eagles continued their comeback and got within 75-63 after a 13-2 surge, but only 1:44 remained. KWU made 4 of 6 free throws the rest of the way and held on.
The comeback was similar to Bethany’s furious rally Wednesday in Lindsborg that saw the Swedes outscore the Coyotes 20-1 in the fourth quarter after they had a 63-33 lead after three quarters.
“First and foremost, we scored more than one point in the fourth quarter, so I feel like it was a successful day,” Showman said, with a laugh.
“I thought we let some things go and they were able to get to the basket. The thing I really liked, though, was that we defended so well. We took them out of every one of their sets. They went away from all that and went for high ball screens and that’s a credit to our defense.”
The Coyotes turn their attention to Sterling and a pivotal conference game at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Mabee Arena. The Warriors defeated KWU 84-75 on Nov. 17 in Sterling.
No. 1 OKWU 68, KWU 53
The Kansas Wesleyan men’s basketball team faced a daunting task hosting the top ranked team in NAIA Division II in the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles on Saturday at Mabee Arena. The Coyotes got an outstanding defensive effort, holding the Eagles 21 points below their season scoring average, but OKWU would prevail 68-53.
Oklahoma Wesleyan improves to 19-1 overall and 13-1 in the KCAC, while KWU fell to 9-8 overall and 7-6 in the KCAC.
Saturday’s game featured the top two defenses in the KCAC as OKWU leads the conference at 68.2 points per game and KWU is second at 69.4.
Defense was on display early on as it took nearly five minutes for either team to score, the first points coming on three free throws by Oklahoma Wesleyan’s Brooks Haddock with 15:27 left in the first half. The first field goal by either team came with 13:47 left in the opening half.
“We gave a great effort on the defensive end, obviously they’re very talented on the offensive side of the ball and I feel like we made them work,” Kansas Wesleyan head coach Anthony Monson said. “I don’t know if they’ve even been held scoreless for that amount of time to start a game. We outrebounded them too, all the effort stuff was there tonight for us.”
AJ Range (SO/Junction City, Kan.) gave KWU its first points of the game at the 13:14 mark on a pair of free throws.
A 3 by Zach Rammelt (JR/Racine, Wis.) got the Coyotes back within three points at 12-9 with just under eight minutes to go, but five straight by the Eagles gave OKWU a 17-9 lead with 6:07 left.
Another triple this time by James Brooks (JR/Cherokee, Kan.) got the Coyotes back within four with 3:36 left, but a 9-2 run by Oklahoma Wesleyan gave the Eagles a 32-21 lead with 1:23 left before the half. The score would carry over into the intermission.
After less than ideal shooting percentages in the first half, OKWU was 12-of-31, KWU 8-of-35, both teams opened the second half with a flurry of shots, mostly from long range, as the teams seemed to trade shots back and forth.
A 3 by Brayden White (SO/Topeka, Kan.) got the Coyotes within 10 at 42-32 with just under 16 minutes to go in the game, but the Eagles pushed the lead out to 16 with nine minutes left at 52-36.
“The difference tonight was that they had a couple guys get open looks and hit them,” Monson said. “And when our guys had them, they didn’t.”
OKWU pushed its lead out to 19 points with five minutes left, but the Coyotes battled back, getting within 11 with three minutes to go on a three-point play by Rammelt.
The Coyotes had to play a majority of the game without top defender Marquis Kraemer (SO/Aurora, Colo.) who picked up two first half fouls and did not play the final nine minutes of the first half, then picked up his fourth with 13:40 to go in the second half and did not return until the 4-minute mark.
“I thought losing (Kraemer) would hurt us a lot more than it did,” Monson said. “The fact that we played as hard as we did, gave us the chance to overcome a lot of things. He’s the heart and soul of our defense and he guarded his tail off tonight. Our entire team did.”
Kraemer led the Coyotes with 10 points and KWU was 19-of-67 shooting for the game for 28.4 percent. Brooks had nine rebounds to lead the Coyotes to a 48-37 advantage over the Eagles, who led the NAIA in rebounding and rebounding margin heading into Saturday’s contest.
KWU limited OKWU to 37.9 percent shooting, well under the Eagles’ season average of 46.6 percent and held leading scorer KJ Malveau to 11 points and second leading scorer Josh Wilchcombe to five. Brooks Haddock came off the bench to lead the Eagles with 19.
“I don’t think the score was any indication of what kind of game this was,” Monson said. “It was an old-fashioned grind it out game. My guys did a great job with that, we just weren’t able to get the shots when we needed to.”
The Coyotes are back in action on Wednesday, hosting the Sterling College Warriors at 8 p.m. at Mabee Arena. KWU will be honoring its fall sport outstanding athletic accomplishments at halftime of the game. Wednesday’s games are brought to you by Little Caesars of Salina.