Sun, Feb. 24, 2013 - [Women's Basketball]
WICHITA – A superb effort on Saturday night by the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes in their matchup against the top seeded Friends Falcons at the Garvey Center. Wesleyan stepped up its defensive pressure in the second half and had outstanding efforts from several players as the Coyotes beat the Falcons 66-49 to advance to the KCAC Championship game at Hartman Arena in Park City, scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m.
The Coyotes will take on the No. 3 seed Southwestern on Monday at Hartman Arena. Conference officials are watching the impending weather conditions to see if the games can be played Monday, or to postpone them to Tuesday night. The conference tournament must be completed by Tuesday night in order for the NAIA to be able to announce the championship field for the National Championships.
The winner of the Tournament Championship will join Friends as the two automatic berths from the KCAC to the 22nd Annual State Farm-NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championships in Sioux City, Iowa, which begin March 6 at the Tyson Events Center. Friends earns its berth by being the highest remaining seed in the tournament, regardless of finish in the tournament.
Wesleyan led 41-30 at the break, but Friends scored the first eight points of the half to cut the Coyote lead to just three points with 17:01 left. The determined Coyotes would not let anything get in their way as Wesleyan maintained a five point lead for a majority of the second half.
Then there was a scoring drought by both teams. Nobody could find the bottom of the net for over five minutes. The last points scored by anyone were on a bucket by McKenna Britton for Wesleyan with 13:50 left that made it 47-42. Finally, with 8:55 to go Stephanie Frost connected on a bucket from the free throw line area to put Wesleyan up seven.
The Coyotes pushed their lead out to double digits on a score by Frost with 6:56 left. The biggest momentum changer was Friends' inability to score in the second half. The Falcons went from the 14:13 mark until the 3:35 mark without a point, a 10 minute, 48 second time span, until Abril Marshall hit a pair of free throws. Sarah Munds hit a field goal for Friends with 2:01 left to break a 12 minute, 12 second field goal-less drought. While Friends couldn't score at all, points weren't exactly easy to come by for the Coyotes. Wesleyan was only able to push its lead out to 53-42 during the run.
After both teams got back on track scoring, Wesleyan pulled away, taking its biggest lead of the night at 17 points with 1:02 left on free throws by Vanessa Kresin.
The first half from the Coyotes was phenomenal. Christian Cassity scored Wesleyan's first eight points as the Coyotes led 8-5 with 16:11 to go. Friends came back to briefly lead a couple times as the advantage swung back and forth in the first ten minutes of the half.
A layup by Kalie LeShore with 9:48 left put the Coyotes up 21-19 and Friends would tie things up twice the last time 23-all before the Coyotes took over. The Coyotes scored eight of the next nine points to take a 31-24 lead capped by Britton's bucket with 5:37 left. The Falcons got within four a minute later, and were within five with 2:28 to go before the break, when the Coyotes closed the half on a flurry.
Sparked by Brittney Stever's free throws with 2:03 before the break, Wesleyan scored the final six points of the half, all by the freshman post player to take a 41-30 lead into the half.
Friends jumped on the Coyotes to start the second half, scoring the first eight points of the period to cut Wesleyan's lead to 41-38 with 17:01 to go. The Coyotes finally broke the second half drought with 15:52 to go on a score by Smith.
The box score doesn't show a lot of what helped the Coyotes pull off the win. Stever was huge in the post on defense for the Coyotes, holding Friends' Marshall to just five points before she fouled out. A lot of things the Coyotes did took Friends out of its rhythm.
Smith led all scorers in the game with 19 for the Coyotes, while Jessica Olson had 14 and Cassity 12 as the Coyotes were 19-of-45 from the field for 42.2 percent. McKenna Britton had seven rebounds, while Cassity and Smith had six each to lead the Coyotes to a 36-29 rebounding advantage.
Inekka Stevenson had 14 to lead Friends as the Falcons were 19-of-56 from the field for 33.9 percent. Three Friends players had four rebounds to lead the Falcons.