Williams and Ricks lead Coyotes past Swedes, Ricks hits 1000 point mark

LINDSBORG – Hampton Williams is becoming the player Kansas Wesleyan women’s coach Ryan Showman thought she would be.LaMyah Ricks met those expectations four years ago and has not wavered.

Williams, a former standout at Salina Central High School and transfer from Abilene Christian, scored 15 points while Ricks had 11 – surpassing the 1,000-point plateau in the process – as KWU outlasted rival Bethany 57-56 in a harrowing Kansas Conference game Wednesday night inside Hahn Gymnasium.

The victory gave the Coyotes sole possession of fourth place in the KCAC standings at 11-6 while Bethany fell to fifth at 10-6.

The game was a tense, seesaw battle throughout. Bethany led 29-27 at halftime; KWU took a 43-41 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Tied at 43 Williams scored seven consecutive points, giving the Coyotes a 50-45 lead with just under five minutes left in the game but Bethany fought back and got within two twice (54-52 and 56-54).

Ricks made one of two free throws with 24 seconds remaining before a Lauren Gleason basket made it a one-point game (57-56) with 10 seconds left.

Angel Lee missed two free throws with 4.4 seconds on the clock but a shot by Bethany’s Kia Unruh missed as time expired.

“When you think about Bethany and Kansas Wesleyan it’s that game right there,” Showman said on his postgame radio show. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing for first or 10th or anything in between, that’s the kind of game it’s going to be.

“I’m just so happy we came out on top and I’m so proud of that team.”

Williams, a sophomore guard, scored 10 in the second half including seven in a row in the fourth quarter that gave Wesleyan the lead for good. Ricks, the Coyotes’ irrepressible senior point guard, reached the milestone on a 3-point basket with 7:08 left in the third quarter.

Williams, who returned to action January 24 after missing 10 games with an injury, was 6 of 11 shooting that included 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Williams and Ricks also grabbed seven rebounds apiece; Williams added two assists and Ricks two steals.

“She was good, she was really good,” Showman said of Williams. “She hit big shot after big shot. We went on our run in the second half and she was a big part of that.”

Showman had to gather himself when discussing Ricks, who has been KWU’s starter for four years.

“She’s a special player, a special person … I’m really proud of her,” he said. “She’s earned every single point.”

Bethany (12-11 overall) led 7-0 at the start and took an 18-12 lead into the second quarter. The Coyotes ended the half on a 7-2 run to get within two at the break. Both teams committed nine turnovers the first 20 minutes.

KWU (13-10) scored the first 10 points of the third quarter – Ricks accounting for seven that included two 3-pointers – and led 37-29 with just over seven minutes left. Bethany scored the next seven, though, and ended the quarter with a 5-2 burst to get within two entering the final 10 minutes.

Lee scored nine off the bench and backup point guard Odessa Ozuna had seven that included a key four-play (3-pointer and free throw) that gave the Coyotes a 54-49 lead with 3:11 left.

“She grew up tonight,” Showman said of the diminutive Ozuna. “(Bethany’s) Emily Green is one of the best on-ball defenders that I’ve seen in a while and was a very difficult matchup for us and I thought our little freshman handled it so well.”

The Coyotes were 21 of 64 from the field (32.8 percent) but were better from long range – 10 of 26 (38.5 percent). Bethany shot 23 of 63 (36.5 percent) and was 4 of 13 from deep. KWU’s 3-point shooting offset the Swedes’ 32-18 scoring advantage in the paint. Wesleyan got 31 points from its reserves while Bethany got 12; the Coyotes won the rebounding battle 37-35.

Unruh led the Swedes with 12 points while Gleason had 11.

KWU plays Ottawa in another crucial conference game at 5 p.m. Saturday inside Mabee Arena. The Braves (13-10, 8-9 KCAC) lost to Friends 87-72 Wednesday in Ottawa. OU defeated the Coyotes 84-74 December 2 in Ottawa.