4 takeaways from the Kansas Wesleyan basketball teams sweep over McPherson

MCPHERSON — A double-overtime thriller and lopsided win set up Kansas Wesleyan’s doubleheader against McPherson on Saturday.

The Coyote women needed 10 more minutes to defeat the Bulldogs, 95-84, while the Coyote men beat McPherson, 93-67 at the Sports Center.

The Wesleyan women improved to 13-6, 9-5 in the Kansas Conference while McPherson fell to 10-10, 7-7 The KWU men improved 14-5, 9-5 in the league while the Bulldogs fell to 12-8, 7-7.

Kelcey Hinz led the Coyote Women with 22 points and 16 rebounds while Amanda Hill had 21. Brittany Roberts had 21 points and 16 rebounds for McPherson.

Jun Murdock led the Coyote men with 18 points while AJ Range added 17 and nine rebounds. Ja’Quan Chestnut and Christian Aguillard each had 15 to lead the Bulldogs.

Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s doubleheader.

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Ryan Showman likes the mindset of Wesleyan women in Kansas right now

A word that comes to Ryan Showman’s mind when he talks about his resilient team. With a loaded group of veterans who have come through the KCAC gauntlet, they know what it takes with their seniors and juniors being part of the squad that won the league championship in 2020.

“They refuse to lose,” Showman said. “Having a team with that kind of mindset around mid-January is dangerous. It was just a matter of execution in stride. I think we did a very good job (in) late game situations, the girls performed tremendously and gave us a chance.

“At the end of the day, endgame scenarios, that’s all you want. You can have all the best X’s and O’s in the world, but players have to make plays. I’m looking at our five that were on the ground, they did.”

Hill said they just have to not give up because anything can happen. The Coyotes trailed 79-72 with 1:28 left in the first overtime and forced an extra session with an 8-1 run to tie things up at 80.

Hill added that they knew there was a lot of pressure on the line.

“We just have to relax and know we’re here for a reason,” Hill said. “We’re in this situation for a reason. I just think we just have to believe in ourselves.”

The Coyotes trailed by seven points before leading up to 11 points in the fourth quarter before seeing that evaporate. KWU managed to cut the lead to 11 in the dying seconds of the second overtime period.

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Wesleyan women in Kansas found a way to win on the road

Road games haven’t been kind to the Coyotes this season.

Going into Saturday’s game, they were just 3-5 on the road with wins at York, Central Christian and Southwestern. With McPherson one game behind KWU in the KCAC standings, it was essential for both teams to stay within striking distance of second place. The Coyotes are two games out of second place and one game out of third place.

“It’s always tough when we play here,” Showman said. “It’s a good basketball team and it’s a really good road win for us.”

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Hill said the Coyotes were unhappy with the way they played in the first half of the conference season. The Coyotes lost tough road games in Avila, Tabor, Bethel and Oklahoma Wesleyan. Now that they are 2-0 in the second half of the league schedule, they want to be a better team on the road.

“I think our biggest thing was like, ‘Don’t give up. We have to play hard for 40 minutes or more,'” Hill said.

Kansas Wesleyan's Jun Murdock (12) attempts a shot during Saturday's game against McPherson at the Sports Center.

Jun Murdock back where he wants to be after hamstring injury

Murdock missed Monday’s game against Friends with a hamstring injury he sustained in the Coyotes’ loss to Bethel on Jan. 8.

After rehabilitating his hamstrings three times a day, he returned to court against York on Thursday. He wanted to make sure he was ready to go and that he wouldn’t suffer any serious injuries.

Previously:Kansas Wesleyan women’s and men’s basketball sweep York: 4 takeaways from doubleheader

“They were making sure we were all okay,” Murdock said. “I was still training part of the time. It was good.”

Along with scoring 18 points, Murdock led the Coyotes with five of 19 assists. The Coyotes went inside early and often and outshot the Bulldogs in the paint, 63-28.

Murdock scored the final eight points of the first half, giving KWU a 46-28 halftime advantage.

“He understands and gets the ball to our guys where they need it,” KWU assistant coach Jordan Murdock said. “He’s a floor general. He came to me and said, ‘We have to feed them. That’s what we ended up doing.”

Jordan Murdock replaced Anthony Monson for the second game in a row

With only a day of preparation and without head coach Anthony Monson out due to illness, the Coyotes were expected to continue their momentum since their win over York on Thursday night.

Coach Murdock challenged the Coyotes and they did so by limiting the Bulldogs to 67 points.

“The second feels good,” Coach Murdock said. “I wanted us to get back to playing the good Kansas Wesleyan brand of basketball. The way Coach (Monson) built this program, it’s built on defensive side saves.”

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What’s next for Kansas Wesleyan

The Coyotes will have a normal week next week with a pair of doubleheaders. The first is Wednesday night at Mabee Arena against Oklahoma Wesleyan.

The Eagles swept the Coyotes on November 23 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, with the OKWU women winning 69-60 while the OKWU men won 86-69.

The women’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the men will follow at 8 p.m.

Dylan Sherwood has been a sportswriter for the Salina Journal since August 2019. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DSherwoodSJ