State Colleges

Friends women get ninth straight win

Ten games ago, Friends women’s basketball coach RaeAnne Boothe didn’t know what each of her players did best.

Half of them were new to a team that was barely above .500 and had lost three out of four games, including a 66-60 overtime loss at Kansas Wesleyan on Dec. 8.

On Thursday, Friends defeated Wesleyan 76-57 to win its ninth straight game and keep within distance of No. 25 Tabor for first place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“Now that they are seeing that hard work pays off daily in the win-lose column, I think the momentum is going to go forward,” Boothe said. “They are really buying into playing as hard as they can. I think if we play as hard as we can, we can be a pretty special team.”

Friends (17-7, 11-2 KCAC) shot well against Wesleyan on Thursday — 45.9 percent — but it was the effort on defense that really set the stage for the team’s win.

Wesleyan (13-10, 8-5) committed 21 turnovers and was held to 34 percent shooting as the Falcons’ zone defense frustrated them all night.

“Our defensive intensity is what we like to fuel off of, and that’s what gets us going and wins games for us,” junior point guard Whitney Bates said. “We had a lot of fire to come out and get payback.”

Bates led Friends with 18 points, and also contributed four rebounds and three steals in one of the team’s best wins this season.

“Early in the season, we were still a pretty new team together,” said junior guard Sarah Munds, who finished with 13 points. “I think now we are starting to read each other on offense and defense and we are where we need to be at this point in the season.”

Wesleyan’s only lead of the game was 4-2. It took nearly 10 minutes of the first half before either team made it to double-digit points when Friends cranked it up on both sides of the ball.

Friends led 35-24 at halftime in large part due to 12 forced turnovers and five made three-point attempts.

“I liked that we hit shots,” Boothe said. “Our percentage that we shot tonight was better than we typically do. When you make baskets it seems to be a lot easier for you on both ends of the floor.”

The Falcons’ lead reached as much as 22 points in the second half, part of a 16-4 run that made it clear that this isn’t the same team that lost to Wesleyan early in the season.

“We know each other and we trust each other at this point. But the biggest thing is everyone is working hard and it’s very difficult to coach effort,” Boothe said. “I think we understand what hard work is.”

Finishing in double figures along with Bates and Munds was senior guard Inekka Stevenson with 12 points. Junior forward Alecia Smith led Wesleyan with 16 points.

KANSAS WESLEYAN (13-10): Smith 5-15 3-3 16, Frost 3-7 6-8 13, Olson 4-7 0-0 9, Cassity 4-6 0-2 9, LeShore 0-1 4-6 4, Kresin 0-8 2-2 2, Britton 1-3 0-0 2, Greving 1-4 0-1 2, Heim 0-2 0-1 0. Totals 18-53 15-23 57.

FRIENDS (17-7): Bates 6-9 4-4 18, Munds 4-10 2-2 13, Stevenson 6-14 0-0 12, Steffenson 3-5 1-2 8, Marshall 2-7 3-6 7, Henderson 2-3 0-0 6, Wiltse 2-2 0-0 4, Fakahafua 1-3 1-2 3, Justice 1-1 0-0 3, Whetstone 1-4 0-0 2, Mills 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 11-16 76.

Halftime—Wesleyan 24, Friends 35. Three-point shooting—Wesleyan 6-18 (Frost 1-2, Heim 0-1, Olson 1-2, Cassity 1-2, Kresin 0-3, Smith 3-8); Friends 9-21 (Bates 2-3, Mills 0-2, Whetstone 0-1, Steffenson 1-3, Munds 3-6, Justice 1-1, Stevenson 0-2, Henderson 2-3). Rebounds—Wesleyan 37 (Smith 13); Friends 39 (Steffenson 7, Stevenson 7, Marshall 7). Assists—Wesleyan 8 (LeShore 2, Smith 2); Friends 15 (Mills 4, Whetstone 4). Fouls—Wesleyan 17; Friends 19.