YORK, Neb. – The Kansas Wesleyan women’s basketball team returned to its winning ways on Wednesday evening as the No. 18 ranked Coyotes rebounded from Saturday’s loss to Tabor with an 82-60 rout of the York Panthers at the Freeman Center.
The Coyotes capitalized on strong efforts in the first and third quarters to pull away for the big win heading into Saturday’s First Bank Kansas Smoky Hill Showdown match-up with rival Bethany inside Mabee Arena.
Wesleyan sped out to a 14-4 lead to open the game as Gabbie Miller (SR/Kiefer, Okla.) scored eight of her 12 points in the first four minutes of the game. A bucket by Courtney Heinen (JR/Axtell, Kan.) with 1:41 left in the first pushed the Coyotes’ lead out to 12 at 22-10 and Heinen scored again just before the end of the quarter to make it a 10-point difference 24-14 after one.
A 9-3 run to open the second quarter for York got the Panthers within four at 27-23 with just under seven minutes to go in the first half. A 3-pointer by Kayla Kivinski (SR/Port Richey, Fla.) stopped the York run and ignited an 11-2 in favor of the Coyotes that made it 38-25 on a three-point by Virja Lewis (SO/Kansas City, Kan.) with 4:19 to go in the second.
A triple by Amanda Hill (SO/Rossville, Kan.) with just under a minute to go in the half would give the Coyotes a 43-31 lead at the half.
Haleigh Bradford (JR/Schertz, Texas)’s shot with 7:15 left in the third pushed Wesleyan’s lead out to 19 at 53-34 and free throws by Hill pushed Wesleyan’s lead into the 20s at 57-36 with 5:09 left in the quarter.
Heinen would sink a 3-pointer and get fouled and converted the free throw for a four-point play at the end of the third giving the Coyotes a 69-43 lead.
The Coyotes pushed the lead out to 28 points several times in the fourth quarter, the last with 3:30 left after four straight points by Valerie Most (SR/Brady, Neb.).
Again the bench was phenomenal for the Coyotes scoring 44 of KWU’s 82 points led by Heinen with 15. Hill added 13 and Gabbie Miller had 12. The Coyotes overcame 37.7 percent shooting in the game (29-of-77) by forcing 29 York turnovers and converting them into 23 points. Maddie Miller (SR/Kiefer, Okla.) led the Coyotes with seven rebounds.
The Coyotes conclude the regular season on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mabee Arena against the rival Swedes. The KCAC Women’s Basketball championship tournament begins on Thursday with quarterfinals played at campus sites.
York 56, KWU 51
YORK, Neb. – Kansas Wesleyan’s irrepressible defense was magnificent, once again.
York’s defense was a little better, though.
The Panthers limited KWU to eight points the final the 13:16 of the game, closed the game on an 11-3 run and defeated the Coyotes 56-51 in a Kansas Conference game on Senior Night at the Freeman Center on Wednesday.
The loss ends KWU’s six-game winning streak and gives the Coyotes a 17-10 record, 15-8 in the conference, heading into the regular-season finale against rival Bethany on Saturday at Mabee Arena. York improves to 14-15 and 11-12 in the KCAC.
The game was close throughout. Marquis Kraemer (SO/Aurora, Colo.)’s 3-pointer with 13:45 left in the contest gave KWU a 43-39 lead before the scoring drought began. The Coyotes made 3 of their final 25 shots and had two field goals the last 6:23.
York surge to a 52-49 lead with 1:14 left following back-to-back dunks by Nevell Lenard and Patrick Burnett.
Kraemer scored with 48 seconds left, narrowing the deficit to 52-51, but Michael Tolbert iced it for York with four free throws the final 17 seconds as the Coyotes missed their last three shots.
“We didn’t make layups tonight, that’s the reason we lost,” Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson said. “We guarded well enough for sure, fought through a ton of adversity – I don’t need to go into details about what the adversity is, if anybody watched the game it’s pretty obvious.”
While Monson wouldn’t specify what the adversity was, the final statistics offered some insight. York finished the game 15 of 20 from the free throw line while KWU was 2 of 4.
Monson remained diplomatic, though.
“We just didn’t execute and finish shots,” he said. “We had chances to score, we got blocked a couple of times, we just missed them, off just a little bit. We got some decent looks and just have to find a way to make them.”
Wesleyan shot 31.3 percent for the game (20 of 64), but was 9 of 36 the second half (25 percent). The Coyotes were 9 of 26 beyond the arc. York shot 36 percent (19 of 53), including 3 of 25 3-point range.
Kraemer scored a game-high 15 points, but was the only Coyote in double figures. He also had four assists and three steals. James Brooks (JR/Cherokee, Kan.) scored nine on three 3-pointers (3 of 14 shooting overall) and Nate Leach had eight points off the bench.
Burnett was the lone York player in double figures, scoring 10, and had nine rebounds and two blocks. Lance Ewell added nine points and Lenard eight.
The Panthers entered the game averaging 82 points, but the Coyotes held them 26 below their average.
“We were really good,” Monson said of the defensive effort. “We held them to 56 points, we guarded without our hands and that’s the way you’re supposed to guard.”
Monson had no qualms with his team’s energy and intensity.
“I’m proud of my guys, they battled,” he said. “This is a tough place to play and I’m proud of the effort they gave.”
The Coyotes, who will be the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament, will look to enter the postseason on a high note by downing the Swedes for a second time this season.
“Anytime Bethany and K-Dub get together it’s fun for the students, it’s fun for the players,” Monson said. “You never know what’s going to happen. It’s a chance for us to end the regular season on our home floor and honor our seniors.”