After an underwhelming victory against Sterling, Kansas Wesleyan head men’s basketball coach Anthony Monson demanded more from his squad.
The Coyotes answered with a much stronger finish.
Senior Terell Gandy was one of five Coyotes in double-figures, KWU used a 15-5 spurt to close out the first half, and Wesleyan pushed its largest win streak in nine years to six following an 88-80 takedown of Friends Wednesday at Mabee Arena. Kansas Wesleyan (15-10, 13-6) is now a game out of first in the KCAC.
Kansas Wesleyan jumped out to a 7-2 cushion, before the Falcons pushed back for their first lead, 18-15 at the 10:11 mark in the first half. KWU jumped back out front with 5:03 remaining, going ahead 27-26.
The Coyotes sparked the 15-5 finish with three of their eight triples of the half, one by Gandy who was five-for-five, including four treys in the first half. Junior Ithello Cross sprinted down the floor in the half’s final possession, scoring on the layup to make it a 45-33 KWU advantage at the break.
Friends (14-12, 12-7) charged back in the second half, trimming the deficit to 59-57, but the was the closest the Falcons would get as junior Rashun Allen made 11 of his 13 points in the final half. Freshman Darius Hammond helped at the line, connecting five of his six tries to end up with 10.
Sophomores Zach Rammelt and Nate Leach each had career-high nights. In his first start as a Coyote, Leach scored 12 points while Rammelt added 13. Gandy was the Salina Ortho Player of the Game, pouring in 22 points. Game-high honors belong to Friends junior Jordan Murdock, who recorded 35 points and 13 rebounds.
Wesleyan travels to McPherson on Saturday. Pregame at 4:45 on FM 104.9.
No. 22 Friends 100 (19-7, 17-2), Kansas Wesleyan 86 (14-13, 11-8)
The Coyotes were on the prowl for an upset bid and played that way to start. KWU forced eight first-quarter turnovers, but trailed 18-13 after one quarter.
Wesleyan bounced back, grabbing its third lead, 29-27 at the 5:50 mark when freshman Amanda Hill connected on a triple. Friends answered with a trey, and held onto the advantage until 3:18 left in the half. Coyotes went back ahead 36-35 and pushed their largest lead to 44-39 before the Falcons knotted up the score at 44-all, capping a quarter that saw a combined 57 points, 19 field goals and nine threes.
Kansas Wesleyan stayed close, sitting in a tied ballgame at 54-54 with 4:01 remaining in the third. The Falcons took control of the game with a 13-2 explosion, forcing eight Coyote turnovers alone in the third period. Wesleyan nipped the deficit to seven multiple times in the fourth, but the Falcons’ eight second-half threes were too much.
KWU junior Gabbie Miller recorded a career-high 23 points and nine rebounds, drilling 11-of-16 free throws to earn the Salina Ortho Player of the Game. Sophomore Courtney Heinen added 16 points while sophomore Haleigh Bradford chipped in 14 and senior Mariah Knox provided 13. KWU was 24-of-38 at the foul line.
Friends junior Lexi Evans had team-high honors with 21 points, connecting on seven threes. Senior Betty Akathiotou powered her way to 20 points.