Ryan Showman knew that the McPherson Bulldogs would be a challenge for his Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes in Saturday's game at Mabee Arena.
The Coyotes overcame 22 turnovers and got a career high 16 rebounds from Amanda Hill (SR/Rossville) as KWU would get a hard-fought 69-57 win over the Bulldogs.
"You have to give a lot of credit to McPherson," Showman said. That's a really, really good team and they forced us into all those bad passes."
Despite the high number of miscues, the Coyotes were able to limit the damage done by them, holding McPherson to only six points off turnovers and 28.6 percent shooting for the game. Only nine of KWU's turnovers came after halftime.
"I did like how we did cut down on those turnovers in the second half," Showman said. "We still turned over nine times (in the second half) but we thought if we could keep in single digits we'd have a chance to win."
After leading by four at the half, Wesleyan saw McPherson cut the lead to a point at 32-31 on free throws by Maison Moseley with 7:54 left in the third. Amanda Hill kept the Coyotes in the lead with a bucket to make it 34-31 and Kaleigh Hanzlick (SR/Hoisington, Kan.) hit a 3 with 7 minutes to go in the third that put KWU up six.
McPherson got it back within a point several times but couldn't grab the lead. Gabby Mureeba (JR/Allen, Texas)'s stick back of a miss at the end of the third put the Coyotes up six 51-45 after three.
Wesleyan pushed the lead out to double digits for the first time with eight minutes left on a bucket by Mureeba and a 3 by Catherine Bowman (FR/Bucklin, Kan.) with 4:47 left put the Coyotes up by a game high 14, and was a key point for Wesleyan in the game according to Showman.
"We had some big contributions off the bench," he said. "I think that Bowman's 3 with five minutes left put us out to our biggest lead and it really kind of was that one play that you know where I felt really good about where we were at."
While most of the scoring came from the starting unit, Showman said it was a total team effort that made the win possible.
"It was such a team effort, our bench energy was great, we played hard, we beat them on the boards, we limited transition baskets," he said. "It was just a really good win. I am really happy for our team because they definitely earned it tonight."
Wesleyan also had no easy task of slowing McPherson's Brittany Roberts, the defending KCAC Player of the Year, who came into the game averaging 23.4 points and 17.2 rebounds per game. Roberts finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds on 7 of 20 shooting.
"We knew that was a key to stop her," Showman said. "She is a really great player. We knew when it came to crunch time that she was going to be more active and start working to get the ball more and I thought we did a really great job of limiting her chances and forcing some others to have to step up for them."
Hill, who has played a significant role for the Coyotes over the last few games was again huge for the Coyotes on Saturday, scoring 15 and pulling down a career high 16 rebounds along the way. She also added a pair of blocked shots.
"Amanda is such a great player for us, and each night she has to take on a different role for us. One night its scoring, one night its defense, one night its rebounding," Showman said of Hill. "She kind of put it all together tonight.
"It was part of our defensive plan tonight to put Amanda and Kelcey (Hinz) in a spot to get a lot of rebounds and they definitely took advantage of that."
Hinz added 15 points and 10 rebounds and flirted again with a triple-double with six blocks, four of the shot-stoppers coming in the fourth quarter.
The Coyotes raced out to a 7-2 lead after a bucket by LaMyah Ricks (SO/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) with seven minutes left in the first quarter, but McPherson got back within a point at 13-12 with 3:30 to go. Mureeba would score just before the quarter ended to give KWU a 17-14 lead after one.
McPherson tied it at 17 to start the second, but a 9-2 Coyote run would make it 26-19 with 4:28 to go before the half.
Mureeba paced the Coyotes with 16 points while Ricks added 10 as KWU shot 41 percent from the field for the game and dominated the rebounding totals 53-36.
The Coyotes are back in action on Tuesday at Oklahoma Wesleyan, a 6 p.m. tip in Bartlesville. KWU returns home next Saturday to take on Ottawa at 5 p.m. inside Mabee Arena.