The Kansas Wesleyan women lost their collective shooting touch at a most inopportune time.
Leading Bethel by 12 early in the fourth quarter the Coyotes made just one of 10 shot attempts the rest of the way and lost to Bethel 48-45 in a Kansas Conference game Friday night inside Mabee Arena.
The loss drops KWU into a tie for fourth place with McPherson in the conference standings at 12-8, half a game ahead of Bethany (12-9) entering the final day of the regular season Saturday.
The Coyotes play Avila at 4 p.m. in Mabee Arena, McPherson plays Ottawa in McPherson and Bethany travels to Bartlesville, Okla. to play Oklahoma Wesleyan.
The top four teams in the final standings receive first round byes in next week’s KCAC postseason tournament.
The loss ended the Coyotes’ nine-game winning streak against the Threshers. They also had won 13 of the last 14 entering Friday’s game.
They appeared to be in good shape when a Gabby Mureeba (SO/Allen, Texas) basket increased their lead to 43-31 with 9:02 left in the game.
But they promptly went ice cold and Bethel (15-6 KCAC) caught fire, scoring on eight of nine possessions that resulted in a 16-2 run. Abby Schmidt’s basket with 1:48 left gave the Threshers the lead, 47-45.
The Coyotes missed their next five shots and Josie Calzonetti made a free throw with 3.1 seconds left for the final point.
Wesleyan struggled offensively all night, shooting 26.2 percent (17 of 65), including 5 of 23 from 3-point range. Bethel shot 32.7 percent (17 of 52) but was 7 of 17 the fourth quarter.
“I thought Bethel played really good defense and took us out of some of our stuff and we didn’t adjust real well,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said. “We had shots, we just didn’t knock them down. That’s basketball, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t and unfortunately when we needed some we couldn’t finish.”
Bethel had 17 turnovers but only four the second half. The Coyotes committed 11 turnovers, six the second half.
Schmidt, Bethel’s 6-foot-3 senior center, led the comeback by scoring nine of her game-high 13 points the fourth quarter. She also had 13 rebounds and blocked five shots for the game.
“I thought she got deep (inside KWU’s zone defense), she got in transition a couple of times … she was tough, she made some plays,” Showman said.
Courtney Brockhoff (JR/Hiawatha, Kan.) led the Coyotes with 11 points and made three 3-pointers. Caila Hill (SO/Rossville, Kan.) added 10 points and six rebounds and Kelcey Hinz (JR/Whitewater, Kan.) finished with nine rebounds, seven blocks and two points.
KWU led 24-21 at halftime then scored 15 of the first 21 points of the third quarter for a 39-27 lead with 2:52 left in the period. The Coyotes took a 41-31 lead into the final 10 minutes.
Showman said his team can’t dwell on the loss.
“The message I gave the team is we can’t let this linger,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot to play for tomorrow and have to come out ready to go.”