Brayden White (JR/Topeka, Kan.)’s best game as a Kansas Wesleyan Coyote didn’t come easily or without sweat and blood.
“B.G. (Brendon Ganaway (SR/Houston, Texas)) takes on so much on the offensive side, and rightly so, he’s so talented,” White said Wednesday as he dabbed blood with a tissue from a nasty, foot-long scratch that started on top of his right shoulder and went down his back along the shoulder blade. “Looking back at our last game (Saturday at Bethel) it got to the point where me not doing anything was getting to be like so much for him to bare.
“I was just trying to a take a little bit of that (scoring) load off of him. Coming into the game I was focused on looking for my shot so that I could attract a little bit of defense and make it easier for him.”
White, who suffered the injury in the second half, scored a team- and career-high 17 points as the Coyotes pulled away in the second half for an 83-70 Kansas Conference victory over York at Mabee Arena.
KWU improved to 12-7 in conference play, tied for sixth with Southwestern, but is just half a game out of fourth and one game out of third. The Coyotes are 15-9 overall.
White, who entered the game averaging 5.5 points, was 6 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 8 from long range. He easily surpassed his previous best of 12 points that came against Ottawa on January 8 in Mabee Arena.
“He’s a good basketball player, he’s a capable shooter,” KWU coach Anthony Monson said. “He can make plays happen both defensively and offensively, and he always gives really good effort.”
Monson said White’s timing was impeccable.
“When you come off a tough loss like we did at Bethel, to me it just comes down to who’s going to step up and answer the bell next game,” he said. “And he stepped up and answered the bell next game. He decided he was going to be a difference-maker and is a big reason why we won.”
A.J. Range added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Ganaway had 13 points and eight assists, and Peyton Hatter (SO/Andover, Kan.) 12 points – each scoring 10 the second half.
KWU led 38-37 at halftime, but trailed 51-48 with 14 minutes left. That’s when White made a 3-pointer and ignited a 25-4 run that gave the Coyotes a 73-55 lead with 5 minutes left.
“It was just a change in the energy level,” Monson said of the rally. “We know how to guard, we know how to play offense, that’s not anything new to us. But we didn’t play with any energy until that spurt. All of a sudden, things came alive and shots started to fall and stops started to happen and we just started to overwhelm them.”
The Coyotes forced 18 York turnovers in the game that translated into 26 points.
“Coach is always talking to us about starting stuff on the defensive end, that’s where we can control your effort and you control your energy,” White said. “When you start getting stops you get a lot of momentum and you can get on a run like we did tonight.”
York (12-13, 8-11 KCAC) wasn’t done, though. The Panthers scored 12 of the next 14 points to get within 75-67 with 2:48 remaining. KWU ended the suspense by scoring the next six points for an 81-63 lead with 1:23 left.
Monson praised reserve guard Savian Edwards (FR/Topeka, Kan.) for keeping the Coyotes in the hunt in the first half. York led 11-4 at the start, but Edwards answered with a 3-pointer and finished with seven points the first 20 minutes.
“In the first half Savian Edwards was really, really big for us,” he said. “We didn’t have energy, he was one of the only guys who had energy. And keep in mind the kid played a JV game a couple of hours prior, too. He was able to not only come in and spark and make a couple of plays, but he’s doing it coming off another game.
“If Savian doesn’t play like he did in the first half we don’t have a lead and maybe it’s a different story. You’ve got to give that kid a lot of credit.”
Monson was pleased with the way his team responded after the Bethel loss.
“When we’ve lost a game this year it hasn’t been just one game,” he said. “We’ve gone on slides and I told the guys we can’t have another slide. We lost a game, it’s OK, but we can’t let this turn into a two-game or three-game or more slide.
“When it gets down late in the year everybody’s hurt, everybody’s sore, everybody’s tired, but nobody wants to hear the excuses, either. If you’re on the court we expect you to get the job done and tonight the guys flat out did it in the second half.”
KWU shot 47 percent (31 of 66), including 10 of 26 beyond the arc. York shot 51.7 percent (30 of 58) and was 8 of 20 from deep. DeAnte Barnes was the only York player in double figures, finishing with 12 points.
The Coyotes are back in action on Saturday when Saint Mary comes to Mabee Arena for a 7 p.m. contest. The Spires lost to Friends 85-66 Wednesday and are 8-12 in the conference, 12-12 overall.