Story by Aubreigh Heck, KWU Sports Media Intern
After losing their first five games of the season, the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes have won their fifth game in a row after defeating the Ottawa Braves 72-55.
“It’s been a process. With starting the season the way we did, we knew it was going to be a process,” KWU head coach Ryan Showman said. “We knew this was going to happen, we knew we were going to figure out who we are, what our identity is. I feel like we’re as close as we’ve ever been.
“To have some success and get some wins along the way, that’s huge. That’s huge for confidence and momentum. I’m just really proud of the team. It’s all of them, everything we do is them making plays.”
“After the start we had, we’ve been putting a lot of confidence in one another,” junior LaMyah Ricks (JR/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) said. “We just play together really well and it’s really good to see that number flip around. (Showman) has been looking at the bigger picture of being 5-1 in conference, and not the overall record, because conference is what matters right now.”
The game started off with an Ottawa lead, and after the Coyotes took it in the first quarter, the Braves didn’t lead for the rest of the game.
At the end of the first half, Ottawa’s leading scorer, junior Hailey Henry, had scored 14 total points. She did not score again for the rest of the game. She was one of two Ottawa players to score more than ten points (Kennedy Bankett), while the Coyotes had four players score double digits.
“Our defense may bend, but it didn’t break. We need to be able to put teams away,” Showman said, “We may have had some turnovers that kept us from doing that in the third quarter, but our defense was stellar. When we defend like that, we can offset mistakes on offense.”
Leading Kansas Wesleyan was senior Caila Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.), who had 15 total points. Sophomore Tylieea Wallace (SO/Overland Park, Kan.) had 14 points, while sophomore Jill Stephens (SO/Colby, Kan.) and Ricks both scored ten.
“(Ricks) was the best one of the floor for long stretches,” Showman said. “I’m glad she’s on our team.”
In the second half, Ricks seemed to get familiar with the floor as she continued to draw fouls. However, it didn’t seem to be an issue with her.
“Just a couple bruises, no biggie though. I can play it off,” Ricks said. “As long as I’m popping back up, it’s no problem. Just got to keep getting back in and doing what you do.”
The Coyotes take on Saint Mary on Saturday in Leavenworth. Their next home game is against tenth-ranked Sterling College on December 13 at Mabee Arena, with tip-off at 6:00 PM.