Hoping to end the calendar year on a high note, the Kansas Wesleyan men’s basketball team instead closed 2018 by watching a potential victory slip away.
The Coyotes led by as many as 16 points in the second half and were still up by 14 with less than eight minutes to play, only to see Hastings (Neb.) College rally for a 78-74 victory on Saturday night at Mabee Arena.
Hastings senior Kevin Miller hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds to play to put his team in front for good and Wesleyan could not convert on two opportunities to regain the lead or tie in the final 25 seconds.
"There were a lot of things that happened, but the game came down to their guy made a shot and our guy missed a shot,” Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson said. “He made a big three and we missed a take to the rim.
“There were a lot of things that led up to that point, but when you play good teams that’s usually what it comes down to. You’ve got to be able to finish. You’ve got to be able to execute.”
After Miller’s made 3-pointer put the Broncos up 75-74, Wesleyan (6-7) could not get a shot attempt to fall on its next possession. Forced to foul with the shot clock off, the Coyotes put Hastings’ Brendan Lipovsky at the line and he made the front end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds to play.
Coming out of a Wesleyan timeout with 6.5 seconds to play, the Coyotes put the ball in the hands of Marquis Kraemer. As Kraemer began his move to the basket, he dribbled the ball off his thigh and out of bounds for a KW turnover.
When Lipovsky made two free throws with 2.7 seconds to play, the Broncos (12-4) had wrapped up a road win.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Monson said. “They knocked down the shots when they needed to knock down the shots.
“It wasn’t an execution thing, it wasn’t an effort thing tonight. It was more they hit their shots and their opportunities and we didn’t cash in at the end of the game.”
After Hastings opened the second half with a pair of free throws to go up 40-37, Wesleyan put together a 23-4 run over the next eight-and-a-half minutes to lead 60-44.
That stretch included six points for A.J. Range, five for Jordan McNelly and 3-pointers from James Brooks and Peyton Hatter. The lead was still 14 points (67-53) after a Nathaniel Leach 3-pointer from the left corner with 7:53 to play.
The Broncos scored on 12 of their final 15 possessions, including five 3-pointers in that span.
“I thought we guarded well,” Monson said of the Coyotes run early in the second half. “I thought we got the stops and held them to one shot and done, and then I felt like we executed on the offensive end, moved the ball really well and played together.
“We had them on the ropes and we just let off the gas. And when we let off the gas we did it with turnovers and missed shots.”
Range, a 6-foot-6 forward, came off the bench and was 6 of 6 from the field for 13 points. McNelly, a 6-5 forward, was 5 for 8 and had 11 points, but Range and McNelly combined for only two shot attempts over the game’s final 10 minutes.
Kraemer finished with 12 points, Leach had 10 and Brendon Ganaway had nine. With Range, Leach and Ganaway leading the way, the Coyotes bench had 40 points.
Mid-America Christian women 74
Kansas Wesleyan 72
A 9-0 run to end the first half and a 6-0 run to end the game allowed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) to slip past the Wesleyan women for a nonconference victory Saturday afternoon at Mabee Arena.
The Coyotes (10-5) had a seven-game winning streak come to an end, while the Evangels improved to 8-2.
“That was the disappointing thing,” Wesleyan coach Ryan Showman said. “Really the only runs they went on the entire game was right at the end of the second and at the end of the fourth.
“I thought we played well enough to win that game but you have to give them credit. They just made a few more plays than us and they were able to get out of here with a win.”
The Coyotes led 72-68 after a 3-pointer from sophomore reserve Amanda Hill with 2:35 remaining in the game, but were held scoreless over their final six possessions.
That stretch included four Wesleyan turnovers, the last when the Coyotes had an opportunity to tie or take the lead with two seconds remaining.
“Against a really good team you’ve got to be able to take care of the ball and I thought we had some untimely turnovers,” Showman said.
“We did a lot of really good things that get lost in the fact that we lost the game. We just didn’t do enough and against a good team, coming off a two-week break, we needed to be a little more careful in some areas and we weren’t.”
Hill, Haleigh Bradford and Sydney Mortensen each had 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the lead changed hands five times over the final 10 minutes.
Every Wesleyan started hard a field goal in a 10-2 run early in the second quarter that put the Coyotes up 33-22. Mid-America Christian scored on eight of its last 11 possessions of the first half to lead 43-41, with Wesleyan committing four turnovers in that stretch as well.
“I thought we did some uncharacteristic things that we hadn’t done (earlier this month),” Showman said. “Some of those turnovers were unforced — bad passing, poor spacing — things we have had tremendous success with. We just didn’t do a good enough job like we needed to do.”
Virja Lewis had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Wesleyan, with Kayla Kivinski adding 16 points and Bradford had 14.
Both Wesleyan teams will return to conference play Wednesday with game against Tabor College at Hillsboro.