Perhaps it was the fact the Kansas Wesleyan women’s basketball team had lost its two previous games after winning seven in a row.
Maybe it was the unconventional practice sessions coach Ryan Showman put his team through Thursday and Friday, or, conceivably, it was the opponent, the York Panthers, who they’d beaten seven consecutive times and are last in the Kansas Conference standings.
Whatever the reason or reasons, the Coyotes regained their mojo and did so in a big way, rolling to a 100-54 victory Saturday afternoon in Mabee Arena.
It was the first 100-point game for a Wesleyan women’s team since a 122-65 rout of Central Christian on Nov. 15, 2014 at Mabee Arena – the 122 points a school record.
The Coyotes improved to 11-6 overall, 9-2 in the conference, and remain tied for second with No. 19 Tabor, which defeated Wesleyan 69-63 Wednesday and trounced Avila 71-51 Saturday. York falls to 4-12 and 1-10 with its fifth consecutive loss.
“It was a great game for us coming out of two losses,” Showman said. “Something hadn’t done in a while was lose two games and it was great to get refocused.
“We had two of our best practices (Thursday and Friday). We had a home run derby, a putting contest, we played some ultimate football – we did some different things. We got refocused on a few little things that I thought we did really well today.”
Three things the Coyotes did really well were play defense, shoot and rebound. They shot 53.4 percent, 38 of 74, including 12 of 28 from 3-point range; forced 29 York turnovers that led to 36 points; and out-rebounded the Panthers 45-37. The one blemish was free throw shooting where KWU was 12 of 26, but it didn’t matter.”
“Any time you can hold a team in college basketball to the 50s, you’re probably going to win a lot more than you lose,” Showman said.
The offensive explosion was a team effort. Four Coyotes posted career highs led by Courtney Heinen (JR/Axtell, Kan.), who scored 24 points off the bench. She was 7 of 13 from the field, 6 of 8 beyond the arc, and had four rebounds, four assists and two steals. The other career highs were Janai Mitchell (SR/Salina, Kan.) with 10 points, Valerie Most (SR/Brady, Neb.) nine and Mackenzie Herman (SO/Rose Hill, Kan.) eight.
Twelve Coyotes scored in the game and KWU’s reserves outscored York’s reserves 69-17.
“We shot an incredible percentage,” Showman said. “As good as we were in the first half (17 of 39, 43.6 percent), we were even better in the second (21 of 35, 60 percent). That’s a credit to the girls and their execution and their ability to finish plays.”
Showman had high praise for Heinen, who scored a career-best 23 points against Tabor before surpassing it Saturday.
“We haven’t had anybody like this since Jenna Farris in the sense she can score so many different ways and that makes her very difficult to guard,” Showman said. “Courtney’s the whole package and she’s really found a rhythm this week and this new year, and I hope she can continue that.”
York shot 34 percent (19 of 56) overall, including 2-8 beyond the arc. Ciara Williams led the Panthers with 18 points while Melony Thomsen had 13.
It didn’t take long for the Coyotes to take control of the game. After York scored the first four points Wesleyan responded with a 16-0 run. A 16-3 surge in the second quarter propelled them to a comfortable 48-26 halftime lead.
KWU closed the third quarter on a 13-2 run, continued to pull away the final 10 minutes and reached the century mark on a Most basket with 22 seconds left.
“I don’t get caught up in all that record stuff,” Showman said. “I do like seeing the girls have fun and it makes me feel good about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and that we can put these kinds of results up.”
The Coyotes take Sunday off before heading for Lindsborg on Monday to play arch rival Bethany at 6 p.m. at Hahn Gymnasium. The Swedes (9-8, 5-6 KCAC) defeated Saint Mary 57-48 Saturday in Leavenworth.
Showman was pleased his key players didn’t have to play significant minutes Saturday with the quick turnaround.
“It was absolutely huge,” he said. “We knew that if we could get in a situation where we didn’t have to play a few people big minutes and could spread it out it would help us. We were able to accomplish that and I was very pleased.”
Wesleyan and Bethany split last season, each winning at home.
Kansas Wesleyan 84, York 79 (OT)
The Kansas Wesleyan men’s basketball team face deficits in both halves of regulation and in the overtime period, but combined an outstanding defensive effort with clutch offensive efforts down the stretch to get by the York College Panthers in overtime 84-79 on Saturday at Mabee Arena.
The win snaps an eight-game losing streak for the Coyotes against York, the last win coming November 9, 2010, a 76-74 win inside Mabee Arena. The win boosts Wesleyan’s record to 8-7 overall and 6-5 in the KCAC, while York fell to 8-8 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
“It was pretty awesome to find a way to pull that win out. I told our guys this is the first time this year where you put yourself in a tough spot at the end of a game in regulation and you had to fight through it and find a way to get it done,” Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson said.
Wesleyan trailed 66-65 with 5:42 left in regulation time before a 5-0 run on a 3 by Darius Hammond (SO/Dallas, Texas) and a bucket by AJ Range (SO/Junction City, Kan.) put the Coyotes up four at 70-66 with 3:42 left.
The teams traded baskets until York got a 3-pointer from Nevell Lenard with 26 seconds left to get the Panthers within a point at 74-73. After a KWU turnover, York tied the game with 3.3 seconds left on a free throw, but the Coyotes were not able to convert in the final seconds as the game went into the extra session.
York scored the first points in overtime, but Marquis Kraemer (SO/Aurora, Colo.) scored and was fouled and converted the three-point play to give the Coyotes a 77-76 lead with three minutes left. It was a lead the team would not give up.
Brayden White (SO/Topeka, Kan.) hit a pair of free throws to put the Coyotes up by a game-best five at 81-76 and James Brooks (JR/Cherokee, Kan.) sealed the win with free throws with 19 seconds left in overtime.
“A game like this will prepare you down the stretch and for the tough games you have coming up,” Monson said.
Wesleyan opened the game trailing by seven 12-5 out of the gates, but back-to-back triples by Brooks for the Coyotes within a point and Jordan McNelly (JR/Salina, Kan,)’s free throws with 15:05 to go in the opening half put the Coyotes up 13-12.
The Coyotes trailed 22-20 before Zach Rammelt (JR/Racine, Wis.) buried a 3 with 10:15 left to go back ahead 23-22.
York took a six-point margin at 29-23 with 8:16 left as both teams traded baskets back and forth. York led by as many as seven, the last time with 2:16 to go before another triple by Rammelt got the Coyote offense going again.
“Zach had a couple good days of practice coming into this one, so hats off to him for coming up big with a couple big shots,” Monson said. “He also made a couple great defensive plays down the stretch for us.”
Rammelt’s 3 sparked a 7-0 push by the Coyotes to tie things up at 42-all on Kraemer’s bucket with 1:19 left in the first half.
York pushed back out to a five-point lead with 1.8 seconds left in the half, but the Coyotes cut the difference to back to three at 47-44 at the break.
The first half was an offensive clinic by both teams. KWU shot 51.6 percent from the field, including 50 percent behind the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line. York shot 50 percent from the field and hit five 3’s and was also unblemished at the line going 12-for-12.
“It was a back and forth first half. I am not used to my team playing like that, but I will definitely take it, but we just aren’t used to it,” Monson said. “For both teams to come out like that firing on all cylinders it looked like an NBA game out there for awhile.”
Four Coyotes reached double figures led by Kraemer with 17, equaling his career high set earlier this season against Southwestern. Brooks added 15, Range had 11 and McNelly had 10. All 10 players that played scored. KWU finished 29-of-64 from the field for 45.3 percent. Ithello Cross (SR/Gainesville, Ga.) and Brooks had six rebounds each, while three others had five.
Wesleyan has another tough challenge ahead on Monday in Lindsborg against archrival Bethany in a First Bank Kansas Smoky Hill Showdown match-up at 8 p.m. at Hahn Gym. The Coyotes won both meetings last season, the second an 80-77 decision in Lindsborg.
“We have another tough coming up on Monday and if we can end this little stretch at 3-0, then we have our bye coming up, I feel really good out where we are as a team,” Monson said.
Wesleyan has an exhibition with Newman on Tuesday in Wichita before opening the second half of conference play on Saturday against third-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan at 3 p.m. at Mabee Arena.