Second half rally pushes Eagles past Coyotes

Second half rally pushes Eagles past Coyotes

It was the best of halves, and it was the worst of halves for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes.

No. 4-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan outscored KWU 26-6 the final 10 minutes, 16 seconds of the game and pulled away for an 82-66 Kansas Conference victory before a large and raucous crowd Saturday inside Mabee Arena.

The loss ended the Coyotes' nine-game winning streak and dropped them to 12-5, 10-2 in the KCAC. OKWU (17-1, 11-1 KCAC) won for the ninth consecutive time.

Thurbil Bile free throw with 10:37 left gave KWU a 60-56 lead but the Eagles scored the next 17 points and led 73-60. Two Caden Hale free throws with 3:07 left ended the surge.

The Coyotes were spectacular in the first half and led 49-39 at the break. They shot 48.5 percent from the field (16 of 33) that included 9 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc and limited OKWU to 41.5 percent shooting (17 of 47).

Oklahoma Wesleyan utilized full court pressure in the second half that helped stem the tide. The Coyotes were 5 of 28 from the field (18 percent), 1 of 12 from the perimeter the final 20 minutes. They were 21 of 61 for the game (34.4 percent).

"The full court press sped us up and we got out of rhythm because of it and started shooting some quicker shots," KWU coach Anthony Monson said. "When we finally did get some open looks, we didn't do a whole lot with them. They just weren't going down. We got a little too impatient on the offensive end." 

Jun Murdock led the Coyotes with 16 points and had four assists and four rebounds. Alex Littlejohn finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Izaiah Hale 14 points and six rebounds.

Oklahoma Wesleyan won the rebounding battle 49-39 that included 18 offensive rebounds that resulted in 15 points. The Coyotes also had 11 turnovers in the second half compared to four in the first.

"That's really, really tough and you're going to have a hard time winning games doing that," Monson said.

Monson said the Eagles impacted his team's second half perimeter shooting by shutting down the avenues to the basket.

"They just packed it in and didn't let us get downhill as much," he said. "They got more physical than we were, kind of pushed us around a little bit on both ends of the floor offensively and defensively. Several times we were trying to get the ball down low, and we were pushed outside of the block. We've got to be tough enough to sit there and take that shove and keep going."

OKWU succeeded by getting the ball inside to the big guys in the second half. The Eagles outscored the Coyotes 58-18 in the paint for the game and were led by 6-foot-7 center Jaden Lietzke who finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Kaleb Stokes, a 6-6 forward, added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

OKWU shot 46.6 percent for the game (34 of 73) – 53.1 percent the second half (17 of 32).

"We played a great first 20 minutes then we just couldn't put together a second 20 minutes," Monson said. "We've got to regroup and refocus. We can't let one loss turn into three and I think we'll respond well."

KWU plays Bethel at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in North Newton. The Threshers (9-9, 6-6 KCAC) defeated Friends 62-43 Saturday in Wichita.

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