Kansas Wesleyan hadn’t played a game in 29 days. However, looking at the Coyotes’ performance on Wednesday night against Southwestern, it appeared the Coyotes were five or six games into the second half of the season.
The Coyotes used an outstanding performance in the first game of 2021, routing the Southwestern Moundbuilders 68-42 on Wednesday night in the first game in the new look Mabee Arena.
Way back in 2008, November 22 to be exact, the Coyote women won their first game inside Mabee Arena 82-68 over Benedictine, and christened the newly redesigned floor with a victory on Wednesday night.
Despite the big win, Wesleyan head coach Ryan Showman said he saw flashes of a team that hadn’t played a game in a while.
“It was definitely a first game back,” Wesleyan coach Ryan Showman said. “We talked about having to play through fatigue, having to play through some mistakes, and I thought we did a really great job.
“I thought that second quarter was some really good basketball. You would have thought it was our fifth or sixth game back. I am really pleased and happy to get the win and move onto the next one.”
The second quarter was the game-changer for the Coyotes, who shot just 30.8 percent in the first quarter, but were red hot in the second, shooting 69 percent (9 of 13) in the period and outscoring Southwestern 26-11.
Wesleyan (9-6, 8-4 KCAC) led 11-10 after the first, and trailed 16-13 with 8:17 to go when things turned in favor of the Coyotes.
Kelcey Hinz (JR/Whitewater, Kan.)’ free throws tied things at 16 and a bucket by Gabby Mureeba (SO/Allen, Texas) gave the Coyotes a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way. It was a 14-0 run for the Coyotes that put them in control, extending the lead out to 27-16 with 4:23 to go in the quarter. Wesleyan led 37-21 at the break.
“It was the first quarter where we knew we just had to defend really well and I thought it was just us settling into our offense in the second quarter,” Showman said. “I thought we continued to defend really well, but the difference was our shots started to fall and that’s when we are really good.”
All-America senior Amanda Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) was a big part of Wesleyan’s charge in the quarter scoring 13 of 15 15 first half points in the second quarter. Hill’s impact would go much further in the game according to Showman.
“Amanda got us going and when you shift your attention to one person that allows someone else to get going,” he said. “I thought we were able to get some other people involved especially in the third quarter.”
Mia Needles (JR/Highland Ranch, Colo.) buried a 3 to open the third quarter and put the Coyotes up 19, and Amanda Hill‘s bucket with 3:46 to go pushed Wesleyan’s lead to 20 for the first time at 46-26. Courtney Brockhoff (JR/Hiawatha, Kan.)’s triple with 43 seconds left before the game put the Coyotes up 20 again at 53-33 and KWU would led 53-35 after three.
Lauren Brown (JR/Wylie, Texas) hit another triple for the Coyotes to open the fourth quarter scoring and buckets from Caila Hill (SO/Rossville, Kan.) and Emily Rank (SR/Kansas City, Mo.) pushed Wesleyan’s lead out to 23 with 7:50 to go.
Wesleyan forced 19 Southwestern turnovers and turned them into 20 points, a majority coming in the transition game.
“We got out and transitioned a little bit,” Showman said. “It was really what we needed coming out of the break.”
Amanda Hill led the Coyotes with 21 points, and shared rebounding top honors with 11 rebounds along with Hinz. Ten Coyotes scored in the game as LaMyah Ricks (FR/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) added eight points as KWU shot 40.3 percent (25 of 62) for the game and dominated the rebounding total 49-31.
The Coyotes return to action on Saturday at Ottawa in a 3 p.m. tipoff from Wilson Field House. Wesleyan returns back to Mabee Arena next Wednesday to host No. 15 ranked Sterling.