Coyotes pick up sixth straight win, downing Tabor 86-71

Coyotes pick up sixth straight win, downing Tabor 86-71

It wasn't a perfect performance, but the Kansas Wesleyan basketball team did more than enough to maintain its momentum and boost its winning streak. 

Alex Littlejohn and Thurbil Bile scored 20-plus points and the Coyotes maintained a double-digit lead the final 22 minutes en route to an 86-71 Kansas Conference victory over Tabor on Saturday night inside Mabee Arena. 

KWU improved to 10-4 and remained atop the KCAC standings with Oklahoma Wesleyan at 7-1 with its sixth consecutive victory. 

Littlejohn had another superhuman effort with 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes while Bile finished with career-best 22 points, seven rebounds and a block in 29 minutes. Easton Hunter scored 14 and Izaiah Hale 12. 

"We got off to a great start (11-2 lead) – we haven't gotten off to a lot of great starts this year and it was great to see that," Monson said. "But I thought we took our foot off the gas at times and let up.  

"Sometimes when you're coming off a big win like we had Wednesday (over No. 6-ranked and previously unbeaten Southwestern) it's hard to keep that same energy level. As much as we talked about it these guys are still 18-to-22-year-olds. They'll do what it takes to win a game but I think there's a lot of things we could have done better tonight." 

The Coyotes closed the first half on a 12-3 surge and led 52-36 at intermission. They led by as many as 18 (68-50 with 8:45 left) but Tabor rallied and got within 74-64 with four minutes left. 

KWU responded by scoring eight of the next 10 points highlighted by Hunter's back-to-back 3-pointers that gave them an 82-66 lead with 2:42 left. 

"I told the guys not too long ago we were 4-4, 1-1 in the league and people were probably questioning us a little bit," Monson said. "Fast forward about a month and now we're 10-4 and 7-1 and everything looks like it should." 

Littlejohn was 8 of 13 shooting while was Bile 9 of 12 and made all four of his free throw attempts. Bile is the Coyotes' talented post player who uses his incredible athleticism and gravity-defying jumping ability to frustrate opponents. 

"With Thurbil the biggest thing is keeping him out of foul trouble," Monson said. "He can do what he's doing if we can keep him on the floor and sometimes that's hard to do. Tonight, it wasn't and he was able to stay on the floor for long periods of time and he put up a great stat line for us." 

"That's something I've got to work hard on," Bile said with a laugh after being whistled for four fouls Saturday. "That's the biggest thing holding me back – learning to guard without fouling." 

Bile's offensive output is on the rise this season. He is averaging 9.7 points compared to 6.1 a year ago. 

"This year I've taken on a bigger role," he said. "It can be anyone's night any given night. Tonight was my night and I tried to do the best I could. I'm a big defensive guy so offensively I let it come to me, I don't like to force things." 

The Coyotes shot 65.3 percent the first half (17 of 26) but just 28.9 percent the second (11 of 38) and finished at 43.8 percent (28 of 64). They cashed in at the foul line, though, making 23 of their 27 attempts and committed just eight turnovers. 

Tabor shot 40.3 percent (25 of 62) and had 12 turnovers. Kenyon Holcombe, Jack Voth and Jake Proctor scored 12 points apiece for the Bluejays (5-9, 2-6 KCAC). 
Wesleyan plays York at 8 p.m. Wednesday in York, Nebraska in its next game. The Panthers (6-8, 4-4 KCAC) defeated Friends 90-84 Saturday in Wichita.

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