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Kansas Wesleyan women defeat top seed Friends in KCAC semis

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at 10:53 p.m.

The Kansas Wesleyan women (18-12) came out firing, building a 41-30 halftime lead, and held off top-seeded Friends the rest of the way for a 66-49 KCAC semifinal victory Saturday night at Garvey Gym, snapping Friends’ 15-game winning streak.

The triumph advanced the fourth-seeded Coyotes to Monday’s final against third-seeded Southwestern (22-7), scheduled for 8 p.m. at Hartman Arena.

First-year KWU coach Ryan Showman, whose team beat Friends at Salina in overtime Dec. 8, credited an offensive improvement.

“We executed our offense,” he said. “I felt that the last time we were here, they were a very physical, defensive team, and they pushed us out of what we wanted to do. We were kind of timid, and we didn’t attack. But I thought (Saturday) we were able to attack and to force them to guard us.”

Underclassmen led the way for KWU, including 6-foot-2 freshman Brittney Stever of Clearwater.

Stever scored all six of her points in the final two minutes of the first half, helping the Coyotes establish their lead at the break.

“(Stever) hasn’t played much varsity this year,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said, “but we needed her. I thought she held her own and played extremely well defensively.”

Stever said the Coyotes were seeking to avenge the January loss.

“I think the fire was there,” she said. “We wanted it more, and you could totally tell from the (opening) tipoff that we did.”

And down the stretch, junior Alecia Smith — KWU’s leading scorer with 19 points — and freshman Jessica Olson hit key free throws to prevent any Friends comeback.

“Jessica Olson has hit key free throws for us, and Alecia Smith, an all-conference player – there’s no one else I’d rather have on the line than those two in that situation,” Showman said. “They stepped up and knocked them down.”

The Falcons, KCAC regular-season champions, have already locked up a spot in the NAIA Division II Tournament at Sioux City, Iowa.

“(KWU) did a great job,” Friends coach RaeAnne Boothe said. “They played hard, they got a ton of second-chance points, they just really wanted to win.”

KWU: Frost 3-7 0-0 6, Heim 0-1 0-0 0, Olson 3-10 6-7 14, Cassity 4-8 2-3 12, Britton 2-2 0-0 4, LeShore 1-1 0-0 2, Kresin 0-3 3-4 3, Smaith 5-9 6-9 19, Stever 1-3 4-4 6. Totals 19-44 (7-23) 21-27 66.

FRIENDS: Bates 1-4 0-0 2, Mills 2-6 0-1 4, Whetstone 0-3 0-0 0, Steffenson 2-6 2-2 6, Munds 3-7 0-0 9, Fakahafua 3-7 1-2 7, Miller 1-2 0-1 2, Steevenson 6-14 0-0 14, Marshall 1-7 3-4 5, Henderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 (5-18) 6-10 49.

Halftime — KW 41, Friends 30. 3s — KW 7-23 (Smith 3, Cassity 2, Olson 2), Friends 5-18 (Munds 3, Stevenson 2). Rebounds — KW 35 (Britton, Smith 5), Friends 32 (Marshall, Bates 4). Assists — KW 11 (Olson 5), Friends 9 (Bates 3).

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