The men’s basketball team avenged its recent 67-60 loss at Kansas Wesleyan by knocking the Coyotes off 72-62 in the opening round of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Thursday evening. The men never trailed during the game at Maybee Arena.

The Builders exploded out of the gate, scoring the game’s first 12 points. Kansas Wesleyan narrowed the lead down to as little as five points, but Southwestern stayed on top, going into the locker rooms at halftime up 33-23.

The men hit 50 percent of their shots in the first half while the Coyotes made just 7-29 from the field.  They also outrebounded Kansas Wesleyan 24-16 in the first half. Justin Diggles, senior guard, hit seven of his nine shots and led the Builders in scoring with 15 points.

The rout continued in the second half as Southwestern continued to extend their lead. With eight minutes remaining, the men had their biggest lead of the night at 57-42. The Coyotes made it a game late when Mekan Moss, senior forward, hit a three-point basket with 2:35 remaining in regulation to narrow the lead to 66-60. However, the Builders’ free throw shooting ended any chance of a Coyote comeback. The final score read 72-62 Builders.

“You could tell from tonight that we don’t want our season to end,” said Matt O’ Brien, head men’s basketball coach.  “We’re not going down. We came out and played with tremendous energy and effort.”

Diggles ended the game with 25 points, going 9-11 from the field. “Once the game got started, we were ready to go,” said Diggles. “Everybody stuck together and was on the same page.”

Tim Miser, senior guard, followed with 14 points. He hit seven of his eight free throw attempts, including two with less than a minute remaining in the game. “They wanted the ball in my hands at the end of the game,” said Miser. “Everyone says I’m a great free throw shooter and I just wanted to prove them right.”

The men finished the game with a 50 percent field goal percentage. They also demolished Kansas Wesleyan on the boards, outrebounding them 43-29.  “It is exciting when you have a bunch of 5’10” or 5’8” guys running around grabbing rebounds,” said O’Brien. The Builders played without their leading rebounder, Marcus Batiste, senior forward.

With the win Southwestern advances to the semifinals of the KCAC tournament where they will face the No. 1 seeded Friends University Falcons. The game is at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in Wichita.

Clinton is a freshman majoring in convergent journalism.  You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.