Coyote men lose to top-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. –Kansas Wesleyan gave the third-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles all they could handle the first 32½ minutes of their Kansas Conference Tournament semifinal game.
The last 7½ minutes weren’t as good though. The top-seeded Eagles outscored KWU 19-5 and retired for a 67-58 victory Saturday night inside the Mueller Sports Center.
The Coyotes, who lost to the Eagles for the third time this season, fell to 22-10 this season and will have to wait until Thursday to find out if they will receive a blanket offer for the NAIA National Championship which begins March 11. . .
OKWU (30-2) takes on Bethel for the KCAC Tournament Championship on Monday at Hartman Arena in Park City. Second-seeded Bethel outlasted third-seeded Southwestern 66-63 in the other semifinal on Saturday night in North Newton.
Trailing 43-42, KWU went 11-3 and led 53-48 with 7:33 remaining – Alex Littlejohn (FR/Newton, Kan.) scoring six of 11. OKWU responded quickly with nine runs straight and led 57-53 with 4:41 to go.
A field goal by Cory Kaplan (SO/Merritt Island, Fla.) at 3:49 put the Coyotes up 57-55. Freshman Derrick Talton scored the next five points for OKWU before Kaplan’s three-pointer drew the Coyotes 61-58 with 1:55 left.
Brandon Bird and Kazden Ammons’ 3 consecutive points in the last 31 minutes counted for the last points of the game.
The Coyotes were 1 of 6 from the field, 2 of 4 at the free throw line and had three turnovers in the final 7½ minutes. They finished with 18 turnovers which led to 16 OKWU points; the Eagles had nine turnovers that resulted in four KWU points.
The slow offense negated the Coyotes’ superb defensive and rebounding efforts. The Eagles entered the game averaging 83 points and outshot opponents by 11.2 per game, but were 25 of 66 from the field (38%), 5-17 from 3-point range and were exceeded 36-34.
KWU shot 40% (20 of 50), 5 of 22 from the perimeter and 13 of 16 from the line.
Kaplan led the Coyotes with a double-double — 21 points and 10 rebounds — while Littlejohn had 10 points and five rebounds and Marcel Dean (SO/Tucson, Ariz.) eight points and six rebounds. Kaplan scored 68 points in KWU’s three tournament games.
Bird led OKWU 16 points while Talton had 15. They combined for 27 points in the second half – Bird 14 and Talton 13. Bird also had a team-best eight rebounds.
The first half was an up and down battle with 14 lead changes. The Eagles led 35-31 with 2½ minutes left in the game but two free throws from Kaplan and a 3-pointer from Kaplan gave the Coyotes a 36-35 lead at the break.