Sat, Feb. 23, 2013 - [Women's Basketball]
Third time's a charm for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes against the Sterling College Warriors. After losing twice by a combined six points in the two regular season meetings, the Coyotes were able to pull out to a huge early lead and then hold off a late charge by the Warriors for a 76-65 win on Friday night at Mabee Arena.
It's a quick turnaround for the Coyotes as they head to Wichita on Saturday to take on top seeded Friends at 8 p.m., at the Garvey Center. Friends defeated the No. 8 seed Bethany 56-42 on Friday night in the quarterfinals.
Wesleyan scored the first seven points of the game and never looked back against the Warriors. Christian Cassity's triple with 17:09 to go capped the opening run for the Coyotes. Sterling got within four points on a couple of occasions, but Wesleyan held the Warriors at arm's length. The Warriors got within three at 13-10 with 13:26 to go in the half on a bucket by Katy McGrath.
Facing a little adversity, the Coyotes responded, scoring the next nine points to take a 23-10 lead with 9:21 left on a bucket and free throw by Alecia Smith. Sterling got no closer than nine for the rest of the half, before the Coyotes blew things wide open.
Smith buried a three to double up the Warriors 34-17 with 3:23 to go in the half and Stephanie Frost hit a three with 1:05 to go in the half to put Wesleyan up 40-19. Sterling would score right before the break to send the teams into the locker room with a 40-21 lead in favor of the Coyotes.
Wesleyan pushed its lead out to as many as 27 points, 50-23, with 15:46 to go on a bucket by Smith. Sterling made a run at the Coyotes, getting within 16 with 12:13 to go on bucket by Cassi Spleiss, but McKenna Britton answered right back with a score to snap the Sterling run.
Vanessa Kresin's conventional three-point play with 6:54 to go put Wesleyan back up by 20 at 67-47 before Sterling made another run at the Coyotes. The Warriors outscored the Coyotes 16-6 over the next five-plus minutes to get within ten at 73-63 with 1:18 to go on a three by Leslie Branch.
Unfazed, Wesleyan kept its composure, battling through Sterling's full court press and sinking three of its final four free throws to come away with the 76-65 win.
The Coyotes were 26-of-58 from the field for 44.8 percent in the game and were led by Cassity with 16 points as five players scored in double figures for Wesleyan. The lone senior for the Coyotes, Stephanie Frost, had a great game in her final contest at Mabee Arena, scoring 15 points and pulling down ten rebounds and blocking four shots. Smith also scored 15 while handing out five assists, Kresin had 14 and Jessica Olson had 10. Kresin added seven rebounds to help the Coyotes to a 38-33 advantage on the glass.
Sterling was paced by Spleiss, who led all scorers with 21 points as the Warriors were 24-of-61 from the field for 39.3 percent. Randi Lucas had 12 and Leslie Branch had ten for Sterling. Spleiss led the Warriors with seven rebounds.