When you face your rival, you always tighten the laces a little tighter, and focus a little more closely on the task at hand.
The Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes did just that, and were locked in from tip to final buzzer as KWU routed the Bethany Swedes 79-52 on Tuesday night at Mabee Arena in a First Bank Kansas Smoky Hill Showdown contest.
“The girls were ready to play tonight,” Wesleyan coach Ryan Showman said. “They were locked in and they were focused, my team was ready to go. It was another level going into tonight.”
It was a 2-point game with 5:54 left in the first quarter as KWU led 8-6, but things quickly changed, for the Coyote good.
Back-to-back buckets by Amanda Hill (JR/Rossville, Kan.) and a three-pointer by Courtney Heinen (SR/Axtell, Kan.) sparked a 14-2 run for the Coyotes that made it 22-8 with 2:52 left on a score by Lauren Flowers (SO/Overland Park, Kan.). Kelcey Hinz (SO/Whitewater, Kan.)’ bucket just before the end of the first quarter gave the Coyotes a 24-10 lead after one.
“They understand what their goals are, they understand what they want and it’s our home floor,” Showman said. “We have to protect it whether it’s Bethany, or whoever it is, you gotta be able to play well and we were certainly bought into that tonight.”
Wesleyan dominated the second quarter, outscoring Bethany 21-7 in the frame to lead 45-17 at the half.
Seven straight points by Haleigh Bradford (SR/Schertz, Texas) and a bucket by Gabby Mureeba (FR/Allen, Texas) gave the Coyotes a39-15 lead as the Coyotes didn’t let up extending the lead to 45-15 on Flowers’s three-point play with 1:15 left in the half.
Every time it seemed like Bethany would try to make a charge, the Coyotes answered right back.
The Swedes got it within 21 points at 47-26 with 6:38 left in the third, but a Heinen triple and a bucket by Bradford gave the Coyotes a 26-point cushion with 5:42 left in the quarter.
Bethany closed within 20 with 2:59 left, but again the Coyotes responded with eight straight points, all by Bradford to take a 61-33 lead with 1:55 left and free throws by Hinz with eight seconds left pushed the lead out to 30 at 65-35.
The Swedes got within a 65-43 margin in the fourth, but Hill’s 3-pointer with 4:23 left gave KWU a 77-45 lead.
The Coyotes were hot from the field, shooting 48.3 percent for the game (28-58), which included a 56.3 percent effort in the first half (18-of-32). Hill led all scorers in the game with 21, while Bradford added 20. Hinz added 13 to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds and Heinen had 11. The Coyotes also got nine rebounds and five points from Flowers, as KWU outrebounded the Swedes 40-29.
Wesleyan is off until Monday, when they host the Avila Eagles at 6 p.m. in Mabee Arena.