OTTAWA – The location was Wilson Field House on the campus of Ottawa University, but it was more akin to a hornets nest for the Kansas Wesleyan men’s basketball team.
With a share of the Kansas Conference title on the line along with Senior Night festivities and a raucous crowd in attendance, No. 6-ranked Ottawa had plenty of juice – and it showed. The Braves built a 22-point halftime lead, fueled by nine 3-pointers, led by as many as 30 in the second half and closed with an 86-64 victory Wednesday night.
The loss drops the Coyotes to 17-11 overall and 14-9 in the conference with one regular-season game remaining – a contest against No. 17 Oklahoma Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Saturday inside Mabee Arena.
They’re tied with Bethel for sixth in the KCAC standings, which lost to Oklahoma Wesleyan 80-77 Wednesday in Bartlesville, Okla., and trail McPherson and Friends (both 15-8) by one game. Bethel plays York on Saturday in North Newton in its last regular-season game.
The top eight teams in the final standings qualify for the conference’s postseason tournament that begins next week. The top four teams will get first-round home games.
A.J. Range had another monstrous night for KWU, finishing with 21 points and 18 rebounds. James Brooks (SR/Frontenac, Kan.) scored 11 was the only other Coyote in double figures as Wesleyan shot 36.6 percent (32 of 68) that included 6 of 22 from 3-point range. KWU won the rebounding battle 46-38 and had 12 turnovers that led to 15 Ottawa points.
The Braves (24-5, 18-5) shot 47 percent (32 of 68), were 12 of 35 from long range and had just seven turnovers. Darryl Bowie led Ottawa with 21 points while Andre Jackson had 17 and six rebounds, Matt Baldeh 12 points and Ryan Haskins 10.
The game got away from the Coyotes in the first half. Tied 8-8 early on, the Braves went on a 20-2 run that included four 3-pointers and gave them a 28-10 with 9½ minutes left in the half.
A 7-0 KWU surge trim the deficit to 12 (38-26) with 3½ minutes left in the half, but Ottawa scored 12 of the final 14 points and led 50-28 at halftime.
The Coyotes got as close as 18 three times early in the second half – the final time 59-41 with 10:40 remaining – before Ottawa pulled away again with an 11-0 burst.
KWU will recognize four seniors, who will play their final regular season home game on Saturday night – Brendon Ganaway (SR/Houston, Texas), Brooks, Andre Harris (SR/Sioux City, Iowa) and Zay Wilson (SR/Austin, Texas).