McPHERSON — They didn’t shoot a particularly high percentage, were outrebounded and committed 18 turnovers while playing on the game.
But the Kansas Wesleyan women didn’t flinch and rolled to a 75-58 Kansas Conference victory over McPherson on Saturday night at the Sport Center.
It was the Coyotes’ fifth consecutive victory and raised their record to 13-2 in the KCAC, just half a game behind co-leaders Sterling and Tabor, who are 14-2. McPherson fell to 7-15 and 3-13.
Defense fueled the latest conquest as the Coyotes limited McPherson to 35.5 percent shooting (22 of 62), forced 23 turnovers – 17 the first half – and had 15 steals.
“I loved forcing 23 turnovers and being able to score in transition off their press,” coach Ryan Showman said. “If we weren’t turning it over and having them score, we were holding them in the halfcourt. It thought the girls did a great job with that.”
The Coyotes made life especially difficult for Brittany Roberts, McPherson’s talented sophomore post player. Roberts entered the game averaging 12 points, but finished with 10 on 5 of 16 shooting and had nine turnovers while battling KWU’s double teams and early foul problems.
“A big part of our defensive game plan was to bring a lot of pressure when she got the ball with her back to the basket,” Showman said of Roberts. “We knew if she faced up (to the basket) we were in trouble. We did a great job bringing help from the weak side and making her have to do some things. She’d turn it over or miss a tough shot.”
The Coyotes once again featured a balanced scoring attack, led by Courtney’s Heinen’s 13 points. Sydney Mortensen (SR/Wichita, Kan.) and Kayla Kivinski (SR/Port Richey, Fla.) scored 12 apiece – Mortensen making four 3-pointers after not scoring in Wesleyan’s two previous games. Amanda Hill (SO/Rossville, Kan.) added 10 points and Virja Lewis (SO/Kansas City, Kan.) had 11 rebounds to go along with seven points.
Eight other players also scored as KWU was able to overcome McPherson’s fullcourt pressure by scoring in transition.
The Coyotes bench players outscored McPherson’s reserves 37-18, helping thems overcome the 18 turnovers and a 45-39 rebounding deficit.
“Balance, depth, we’ve got it,” Showman said. “Tonight was just another day at the office for our team. In a week where we’ve got four games in seven days that’s going to be key. The old saying is only the strong survive, well I think only the deep will survive this conference season.”
Brooke DeLuca led McPherson with 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
Wesleyan got off to another fast start. After McPherson scored the first basket of the game, the Coyotes tallied 13 consecutive points and led 18-10 entering the second quarter.
The lead ballooned to 38-20 with 2:47 left before halftime, but McPherson scored eight of final 10 points and trailed 40-28 at the break.
Wesleyan outscored the Bulldogs 21-11 in the third quarter and were up 66-39 with just under nine minutes left before McPherson closed the gap. The Bulldogs got within 15 twice, 69-54 with 4 minutes left and 74-58 with 1:29 remaining, before the Coyotes closed it out.
Wesleyan has Sunday off before taking on Southwestern at 6 p.m. Monday at Mabee Arena. The Coyotes then hit the road again for road games Thursday against Avila in Kansas City, Mo., and Saturday against Saint Mary in Leavenworth.
KWU defeated all three teams before the holiday break.
KWU 77, McPherson 66
McPHERSON – The Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes got a career performance by Marquis Kraemer (SO/Aurora, Colo.) and overcame 25 turnovers to knock off the McPherson College Bulldogs 77-66 on Saturday night at the Sport Center.
Kraemer dropped in 19 points, 13 in the second half, including a huge 3-pointer with three minutes left that put the Coyotes up 12, just moments after McPherson had cut the lead back down to seven.
The Coyotes, which won their fifth game in the six since the calendar changed led wire-to-wire, improved to 11-8 overall and 9-6 in the KCAC, despite things getting a little challenging early in the second stanza.
“I thought I was having déjà vu all over again the way the game went the first half, up by 14, playing really well, executing our game plan,” KWU head coach Anthony Monson said referring to the first meeting between the teams, which McPherson won at the buzzer.
“Second half we came out flat, had a lack of focus and the next thing you know it’s a 2-point game. We subbed out our first five guys and got a spark from our bench, as Zach Rammelt (JR/Racine, Wis.) was big again tonight, and it gave the starters a chance to regroup and refocus.”
Wesleyan led by 14 at the half, 44-30, but McPherson opened the second half with a 13-1 run, cutting the difference to two points with just under 16 minutes left. Wesleyan responded with a 7-0 run capped by a bucket and free throw by Peyton Hatter (FR/Andover, Kan.) to make it 51-43 with 13:30 left.
The Coyotes pushed the lead back out to 11 on Darius Hammond (SO/Dallas, Texas)’s bucket with 10:47 to go and James Brooks (JR/Cherokee, Kan.) hit a pair of free throws to give the Coyotes a 12-point cushion two minutes later.
McPherson pushed back again, getting within six at 58-52, and led by eight when Kraemer buried another big 3 that put the Coyotes up 63-52 with 6:08 to go.
Wesleyan relied on free throws to hold the Bulldogs off after Kraemer’s triple with 3:04 left that put the Coyotes up 12 at 68-56.
The Coyotes jumped out to an early 9-2 lead with 16 minutes left in the first half on a bucket by Ithello Cross (SR/Gainesville, Ga.). McPherson got back within two, but the Coyotes would push the lead out to double digits on Nathaniel Leach (JR/Houston, Texas)’s bucket with 8:06 to go in the first.
Brayden White (SO/Topeka, Kan.)’s triple gave Wesleyan a game-high 36-19 lead with 4:36 left, which would be equaled again on Brooks’ free throws with 1:22 left.
Wesleyan held McPherson to 35 percent shooting in the game (20-of-57), including 26.9 percent shooting in the first half.
The Coyotes were led by Kraemer’s 19 points, while Brooks added 13 as KWU was 24-of-49 from the field for 49 percent. AJ Range (SO/Junction City, Kan.) had 12 rebounds and Brooks added nine as Wesleyan dominated the glass 47-24.
It’s another quick turnaround for the Coyotes, who host No. 10 ranked Southwestern on Monday at 8 p.m. at Mabee Arena. It’s the Annual Suits and Sneakers game for the Coyotes. KWU will be raising money for local cancer charities. The coaches will be wearing sneakers during the game.