Nov 16, 2023

Men's Basketball opens KCAC play with 99-78 win over Friends

Posted Nov 16, 2023 6:05 PM

Kansas Wesleyan head coach Anthony Monson just kept waiting for the offensive run to happen.Finally it did.

Leading 75-71 with five minutes left, the Coyotes exploded on an 11-0 run, the first eight points by Alex Littlejohn to pull away down the stretch and rout the Friends Falcons 99-78 in Wednesday's Kansas Conference opener inside Mabee Arena.

"I just kept waiting for the run to happen," Monson said. "We got it to nine and I told our bench, this is going to go one of two ways - it's going go to 20 or it's going to go down to three and it went to four.

"We were able to kind of relax a little bit and get a couple plays. I've said this all year I'm going to keep saying it - offense will not be this group's problem. It will be the defensive end and giving up 78 points. We've still got a lot of work to do."

Gabe Mack's three with 45 seconds left pushed Wesleyan's lead out to 97-74, capping a 22-3 run over a four-minute span for the Coyotes.

Mack hit another bucket to give the Coyotes 99, and after Friends scored with 14 seconds left, the Coyotes ran it out for the win.

The first 35 minutes of the game were not like the last five.

It was back and forth both ways as both teams led in the first half. Wesleyan went up 36-30 with 4:22 left on Cory Kaplan's bucket in the first half, but Friends kept it close.

The Coyotes led 44-39 at the half.

Friends scored the first five points of the second half to tie it, but Wesleyan held the advantage, pushing it out to six several times, before finally grabbing a nine-point cushion with 12:55 left on Caden Hale's free throws.

Jun Murdock's bucket with 9:33 left pushed the difference to 10 at 71-61, but Friends got back within four at 73-69 and against at 75-71 when the Wesleyan offense got uncorked.

"I thought our guys kept their poise for the most part all night even though we were a little bit sloppy at times and we didn't shoot the ball really well," Monson said. "Even though we scored 99 points we shot around 29 percent from the three-point line that's not that great of a night."We've got to be a little bit better defensively we let them shoot 41 percent from three. They (Friends) played well, but you know at the end of day like we found a way to make plays and make shots and that's the difference."

Littlejohn led all scorers in the game with 27 points, making 10 of 16 shots, and recorded another double-double with 13 rebounds. Murdock had 19 and Cory Kaplan had 16 for the Coyotes. Wesleyan shot 52.9 percent from the field for the game.

The Coyotes are back in action on Saturday, hosting KCAC newcomer Evangel at 5 p.m. at Mabee Arena. Evangel routed Tabor 94-57 on Wednesday night in the Valor's inaugural KCAC contest.