In a game neither team was overly eager to play because of the timing, Fort Hays State and Kansas Wesleyan did their best to get something beneficial out of Monday’s non-conference matchup at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Fort Hays rolled to a 90-49 win over the Coyotes, putting all 11 players in the scoring column and holding KWU to 26% from the field. The Tigers used it as an opportunity to build confidence after losing seven of their last eight games entering Monday.
The game was originally set for Dec. 15 but rescheduled because of weather.
“It was a game you kind of really hate having to play,” FHSU coach Mark Johnson said. “It’s your third game in five days, you’re at the end of January, right in the middle of the conference season. But I think for us, it was probably good. We needed to have success.”
With a KCAC game at Avila on tap Wednesday, Wesleyan opted to rest its top three scorers — Brendan Ganaway (13.1 points per game), A.J. Range (13 ppg) and James Brooks (12.2) — for Monday's game, which went down as an exhibition for the Coyotes.
Kansas Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson gave the Coyotes' reserves a chance to play extended minutes.
“It was an opportunity for guys that don’t normally get one to go out and compete and work on some things and see what it’s like at the D-II level," Monson said. "Just take some of the things you see there and translate them over to what we do.”
The Tigers (8-11) took a 38-15 lead into the break after shooting 52% from the field while limiting Wesleyan to 18% (6 of 33). The Coyotes lost track of the Tigers after an 18-0 FHSU run stretched the lead to 41 in the second half.
“Overall, I thought we guarded pretty well,” Johnson said. “Offensively, we had stretches. Jared (Vitztum) had a big stretch to get us going there. Alvin (Thompson) got in and helped us get going. I thought the second half, after the first five minutes, we played better and made more aggressive plays.”
Vitztum led the Tigers with 19 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from 3-point range. Calvin Harrington added 12, while Perry Carroll and Hutchings each had 11 and Thompson contributed 10.
“I think everybody shared the ball and was looking for each other,” Harrington said. “We locked in on defense and got some stops."
Wesleyan finished 17 of 65 from the field and 5 of 21 from 3-point range.
“The guys that were playing just couldn’t get it to fall tonight," Monson said. "It’s tough, though, because they’re not used to playing in games like this and minutes like that. It’s a learning opportunity for all of them and that’s how we view it. Happy with the way they competed in the second half.”
Miles Koehler led the Coyotes (13-8) with 10 points.
The Tigers will now look to resolve their issues in the MIAA, sitting at 1-9 in conference play. FHSU will play host to Nebraska-Kearney at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Hopefully we gained a little momentum here,” Johnson said. “We have nine conference games left, five of them are at home, four on the road. They’re all winnable, they’re all losable. I think all these games we play, we have an opportunity to win the games.”