Kansas Wesleyan starters Rashun Allen and Terell Gandy started the battle. The Coyote reinforcements finished the war.
Sophomore Nate Leach had a key stick late, freshman Darius Hammond connected on two free throws, and the Coyotes used 47 bench points to sink the Bethany Swedes 80-77. KWU snapped a three-game losing skid while claiming the season series in the 214th meeting in the First Bank Kansas – Smoky Hill Showdown.
Allen woke up from his long slumber early. The junior from Salina poured in 10 of his career-high 15 points in the first half, helping Wesleyan build a 34-25 cushion. Junior Ithello Cross used his lengthy frame in the opening half, keeping the Coyotes ahead at the break with a 41-34 cushion.
After sitting on the bench with two fouls, Gandy kicked off the second half with five quick points, pushing the lead to 10 in the early minutes. The margin grew to 64-51, but Bethany had the answer. Freshman Isiah Saenz nailed two threes, followed by a triple by freshman Ryan Wilson to ignite an 11-0 explosion, trimming the deficit to 64-62 with 7:24 to play in the game.
A couple minutes later, Leach connected on a trey of his own. The Swedes charged back, grabbing their first advantage with around three minutes to play, ahead 72-70. Gandy, a senior from Junction City, had something up his sleeve, drilling a three with 2:14 to go to give KWU a 75-72 advantage. Shortly after, Bethany junior Tyler Larkin made a jumper to put the Swedes ahead, 76-75 with 1:04 on the clock.
Not only did Hammond sink a pair of huge free throws with 7.5 seconds left, but he also put the Coyotes back out front 77-76 with 45 seconds remaining. Hammond ended up with 14 points, the most from the bench that earned the Salina Ortho Player of the Game honors. Leach matched a career high with nine points while freshman Marquis Kraemer did the same with eight. Gandy scored 12 points, all in the second half.
Bethany’s Larkin paced the Swedes (7-15, 3-11) with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Wesleyan (10-10, 8-6) goes back home for five of the final eight games in the regular season to face St. Mary. Pregame coverage begins at 5:45 on FM 104.9 on Wednesday.