Their loss to Mid-America Christian on New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma City didn’t set well with the Kansas Wesleyan women’s team. The 64-61 nonconference setback ended a seven-game winning streak the Coyotes had taken into the Christmas break.
So, it was easy to understand why they were eager to get back on the court Saturday night.
Amanda Hill (JR/Rossville, Kan.) scored 22 points and their swarming defense forced 29 turnovers in a 75-58 Kansas Conference road victory over McPherson at the Sport Center.
The Coyotes were in control from start to finish, even when the onslaught slowed in the fourth quarter. They led 22-10 after one quarter, 44-27 at halftime and 65-38 after three quarters en route to raising their record to 12-4 overall and 8-2 in the KCAC.
“Yes, very much,” Hill said when asked if she and her teammates were eager to play again. “(The Mid-America Christian game) was so close and we fought really hard, but to be expected coming off the break we had a lot of turnovers (24). We weren’t really ourselves. We were excited to come into the new year and get it done.”
And get it done they did. The Coyotes shot 45 percent from the field (27 of 60), got 21 points from their reserves and scored 39 points off McPherson’s 29 miscues.
Hill was 8 of 16 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and had seven rebounds. Kelcey Hinz (SO/Whitewater, Kan.) scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked five shots and had three steals before fouling out, and Kayla Vallin (SR/Aurora, Colo.) added 10 points and four steals. All 10 Coyotes who played scored at least two points.
Hill said the Coyotes were determined to get the job done on the defensive end of the court. McPherson shot 42 percent (24 of 57) and KWU had 15 steals.
“We knew that they were going to be aggressive, so we wanted to come as aggressive as we could be and put pressure on them just like they do to us,” she said. “It definitely went in our favor.”
Coach Ryan Showman was pleased with his team’s defensive effort for three quarters of the game. McPherson outscored KWU 20-10 the final 10 minutes.
“You take away the fourth quarter, I thought we played as complete a game defensively, one through three, as we’ve seen in a while,” he said. “I thought we made enough plays to hang on and win. (McPherson) played hard and they’ve got some big kids.”
Showman said his team was ready to play.
“We had some really good practices and coming off of Tuesday’s loss the girls were excited to get back on the court,” he said. “They were excited to get back to practice, they were excited to have another game because that (loss) didn’t sit well with them. They knew we left some opportunities out there, we just didn’t play as well as we needed to to beat a good team on the road.
“We knew we had to be better today. That was the emphasis in practice and I credit the leaders on the team for having us focused and having us ready to go.”
Leading 5-4 early on, the Coyotes pulled away by outscoring the Bulldogs 18-6 the rest of the first quarter. They led 41-19 with 4½ minutes left in the half before McPherson closed the gap with eight straight points.
The Bulldogs scored the first four points of the third quarter to get within 44-31, but KWU scored 16 of the next 23 points. McPherson got as close as 16 (68-52) in the final quarter.
Hill, who leads the team in scoring with a 17.1 average, tallied 21 in the first three quarters.
“When we needed a big basket she was there,” Showman said. “Whether it was to continue a run or stop a run, she was there and made some big baskets.”
Showman was ecstatic with the play of his reserves. The Coyotes played without backup center Lauren Flowers (SO/Overland Park, Kan.), who was injured.
“Our depth is what’s going to allow us to have success the rest of this conference year,” he said. “We knew we were going to be down one with Lauren and we needed some people to step up.
“We got contributions, we got production – we talked about having them producing when they come in – and I was really happy with our bench tonight. People kept going in and making plays. I don’t know if it was the most complete game we’ve played, but it was definitely, one through 15 (team members), a complete game.”
Brittany Roberts led McPherson (9-7, 5-5 KCAC) with 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
The Coyotes are back home Wednesday when they play Ottawa, starting at 6 p.m. at Mabee Arena. The Braves (2-11, 2-8 KCAC) lost to conference leader Sterling 81-50 Saturday in Ottawa.