KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas Wesleyan’s three-game winning streak came to an end Monday night and coach Anthony Monson wasn’t happy with the reasons why.
Twenty-three turnovers and 11 missed free throws were more than the Coyotes could overcome in a 68-63 Kansas Conference loss to Avila inside Mabee Fieldhouse.
Avila scored 16 points off the turnovers and benefitted from KWU’s 9 of 20 shooting from the foul line.
“That’s the game,” Monson said on his postgame radio show. “Can’t win a game on the road when you do that. Our failure to make adjustments and stay solid with the basketball really, really hurt us.”
KWU fell to 6-5 overall, 4-3 in the KCAC, while Avila improved to 7-2 and 3-1.
Despite the problems the Coyotes still had chances to take the lead late in the game. They got within three twice in the final 2½ minutes, 64-61 and 66-63 – the second on a Tyus Jeffries (JR/Oklahoma City, Okla.)’ basket with 29 seconds left. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
Avila’s Donte’ Simpson made two free throws with 12 seconds left and KWU turned it over on its final possession.
The Coyotes led 28-20 with 7½ minutes left in the half but Avila had a 36-35 advantage at the break after going on a 16-7 closing burst.
A three-point play by CJ Weathers (JR/Allen, Texas), who scored a career-high 11 points, gave KWU a brief 41-38 lead with just under 17 minutes left in the game. Avila responded and took the lead for good with a 12-2 run that made it 50-43 with 12:47 remaining.
“Avila played really hard and made some big shots,” Monson said. “They got a couple of second-chance opportunities at really crucial moments of the game.”
KWU stayed close the first half by making 7 of 19 3-point shots but was 1 for 8 the second half – the one by reserve guard Jackson Maupin (FR/Argyle, Texas).
“The only guy to hit a shot was one who didn’t play the first half,” Monson said. “We just refused to make those adjustments that we needed to make. You’ve got to give Avila a lot of credit, they deserved to win this game more than we did.”
Weathers was the only Coyote to score in double figures while Nate Leach (SR/Houston, Texas) and Jeffries had eight points apiece. KWU shot 40.6 percent (23 of 50) – 55.6 percent the second (10 of 18) – but couldn’t overcome the turnovers and free throw shooting. The Coyotes were 7 of 12 at the foul line and committed 13 turnovers the second half.
AJ Range (SR/Junction City, Kan.), KWU’s leading scorer, had six points but only took two shots as Avila double teamed him whenever he got the ball. He did grab 11 rebounds as Wesleyan easily won the rebounding battle 45-30.
Five Eagles scored in double figures led by Simpson and Tyree King with 15 apiece. Avila shot 42.4 percent (25 of 64), including 8 of 31 from long range, and was 10 of 12 at the free throw line.
The Coyotes are back on the road for two more games this week – Bethany on Thursday in Lindsborg and Sterling on Saturday in Sterling. Tip-off is 3 p.m. for both contests.