A second straight strong defensive effort fueled the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes to a 77-58 rout of the Bethel Threshers on Saturday night inside Mabee Arena.
The victory kept the Coyotes unbeaten at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Kansas Conference.
Wesleyan head coach Anthony Monson lauded his team’s defensive effort in the game.
“We guarded our tails off. This is the second straight game where we only let one guy score in double figures,” he said. “It’s not like we are using the same lineup to get this done. We have a lot of depth and a lot of talent and we keep telling the guys they’ve got to stay ready and there can’t be any let down when we put you in the game, and I think tonight was evident of that because that big run came with five guys that come off the bench for us. They did a tremendous job, and we needed them and they stepped up in a big way.”
The Coyotes led by four, 43-39, with 13:56 left in the game when the run happened. Four straight points by Jun Murdock (JR/Wichita, Kan.) got it started, followed by a bucket by Tyus Jeffries (SR/Oklahoma City, Okla.) and a 3 by Izaiah Hale (SO/Wichita, Kan.) pushed Wesleyan’s lead out to 52-40 with 10:48 to go.
“We’ve had this group for a couple years. They’re understanding our defensive philosophy but now theyre learning how to do it while being physical,” Monson said. “I thought we were the most physical team tonight. It looked like we took a physical toll on them as the game went on.
“A lot of that has to do with that we have more depth, we can throw more bodies at them, and they got in foul trouble in the first half. We let Nick Bonner get loose a little bit and that wasn’t good, but I think we just kind of wore them down physically, and I think that’s going to be a recurring theme for us this year.”
Wesleyan’s lead grew to as big as 26 points down the stretch on free throws by Micah Lovett (SO/Tulsa, Okla.) with 2:17 left before Bethel cut it to 19 at the final buzzer.
It was another balanced scoring attack for the Coyotes led by 15 from Murdock, while Hale added 13 off the bench and Jeffries added 10. The Coyotes shot 51.4 percent from the field (18 of 35) in the second half to finish 28 of 64 for the game for 43.8 percent.
The Coyotes jumped out to an 11-1 lead to open the game but Bethel responded with a 20-2 run to take a 21-13 lead with 6:54 left in the first half. Back came the Coyotes with an 8-0 burst fueled by a 3 by Easton Hunter (JR/Colwich, Kan.) and Malik Marshall (SO/Rockford, Ill.)’s score that tied it with five minutes to go in the half.
KWU trailed 25-23 with 1:41 to go in the half, but a 7-0 run capped by free throws by Hunter gave KWU a 30-25 lead. KWU led 30-26 at the break.
Bethel got within one to start the second half, but the Coyotes pushed out to a 38-31 lead with 16:47 left on free throws by Murdock. Bethel got within four with 13:56 left when the Coyotes made their move.
Wesleyan will conclude its six game season opening home stand on Tuesday, hosting the Friends Falcons at 8 p.m. at Mabee Arena. The Coyotes’ first Kansas Conference road test comes on December 1 at Avila.
The Coyotes do have a pair of exhibition games next weekend in Colorado at Colorado School of Mines on Friday, and Colorado Christian next Saturday.