McPHERSON – Kansas Wesleyan Women’s Basketball coach Ryan Showman summed up his team’s game with one sentence speaking on his post-game radio interview.
“That was a heck of a game, so proud of my team,” he said.
And what a game it was.
The Coyotes rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter and held on at the end to come away with a 64-62 win over the McPherson Bulldogs on Saturday night at the Sport Center.
The shots just weren’t falling for the Coyotes for the first 25 minutes of the game, so Wesleyan turned to a common calling card for a spark – defense.
“That’s what we talked about. If it was going to happen tonight it was going to happen on the defensive end,” Showman said. “Then we decided that we weren’t going to lose this game. That last 15 minutes was some of the most incredible basketball I have seen all year. We just refused to lose.”
Trailing by 15 with 5:47 to go in the third quarter, the Coyotes turned up the defensive pressure, forcing McPherson to go 2 of 8 for five points, and commit three turnovers on its final 11 possessions of the third quarter while cutting the deficit to just seven, 51-44, at the end of the third.
Jill Stephens (SO/Colby, Kan.) opened the Coyote fourth with a 3, drawing the Coyotes within four, but four quick points from the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to eight with 7:48 left.
And here came the Coyotes.
A bucket by LaMyah Ricks (JR/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) started the run for the Coyotes as KWU cut the difference to two at 56-54 with 5:37 left on a bucket by Tylieea Wallace (SO/Overland Park, Kan.). Teams traded buckets, until Caila Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) scored, plus a foul, and free throw drawing the Coyotes within a point at 60-59 with 2:43 left.
After two McPherson misses, and a turnover, the Coyotes took the lead with 1:07 left on a 3 pointer by Ricks that made it 62-60.
McPherson scored on its next possession to tie it again, but Wallace hit the game-winner with 15 seconds left putting the Coyotes up 64-62.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie it, but a pair of shots would fall short at the end, and the Coyotes would hold on for the win.
KWU held McPherson to 5 of 17 shooting in the fourth, and forced four McPherson turnovers.
It was a total team effort for the Coyotes, as all 10 players that saw the court scored, led by Wallace’s 15 points and 12 rebounds. Ricks added 13, and Angel Lee (SO/Grandview, Mo.) had eight.
The Coyotes led 16-14 after a quarter, but a big second from McPherson allowed the Bulldogs to push out to a 32-25 lead at intermission.
Showman credits the balanced output of his team all season long to what led to Saturday’s win.
“If you look at our stats, we don’t have a 20 point scorer. It’s balanced, we are so balanced, everyone contributes and that’s what tonight was, a total team effort,” he said. “I am just so proud for us to be able to get the stops when we needed them and the buckets when we needed them, but it all started on defense tonight.”
Wesleyan’s road trip continues on Wednesday as the Coyotes take the short trip south to Lindsborg on Wednesday. KWU is at Bethel next Saturday, then at Friends on January 23, before returning home to host Avila on January 28.