WINFIELD – Southwestern’s historic Stewart Field House is renowned for being an immensely difficult place for opposing teams to win.
That was the case again Wednesday night.
Struggling to score throughout the game and hampered by turnovers and foul problems Kansas Wesleyan fell to the Moundbuilders 52-47 in the Kansas Conference opener for both teams.
KWU (2-3 overall) was 19 of 66 from the field (28.8 percent) that included 1 of 18 from 3-point range. The Coyotes also had 23 turnovers. Southwestern (4-2) made 20 of 55 shots (36.4 percent) and committed 25 turnovers.
AJ Range, Wesleyan’s lead scorer and rebounder who was coming off four double-doubles in the first four games, led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds – all in the second half. He was whistled for two fouls in the first 26 seconds of the contest and spent the rest of the first half on the bench.
KWU trailed 23-18 at halftime after shooting 25 percent (8 of 34) the first 20 minutes, but stayed within striking distance by forcing 13 turnovers and limiting the Moundbuilders to 38 percent shooting (10-26).
KWU promptly rallied at the start of the second half, outscoring Southwestern 8-0 that gave them a 26-23 lead with 17:00 left.
The game remained close for the next 5½ minutes. A Daekwon Gross (SR/Kansas City, Mo.) basket with 11:22 left tied it at 32, but Southwestern pulled away with a 19-2 run over a six-minute span and led 51-34 with 4:51 remaining.
Undaunted, the Coyotes mounted a furious comeback to start the second half, scoring 11 unanswered points – four each by Range and Jeffries, and a 3-point basket by Easton Hunter (FR/Colwich, Kan.) – that got them within 51-45 with 48 seconds left.
But two missed 3-pointers and a turnover sandwiched around two Range free throws and a Moundbuilder free throw the rest of the way left the Coyotes five points short.
Range finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, just missing his fifth consecutive double-double. He was 4 of 8 from the field, 6 of 7 at the free throw line and had three assists. Jeffries added 10 points, four steals and seven rebounds as KWU won the outrebounded the taller Moundbuilders 44-43.
Steele Gaston-Chapman, a freshman, led Southwestern with 17 points off the bench. Geoffrey Salas added 14 points.
Wesleyan was scheduled to play Ottawa on Friday inside Mabee Arena, but the game has been postponed because of COVID-19 concerns at Ottawa. The KWU and Ottawa women will play, starting at 7 p.m. in Mabee Arena.
Next scheduled game for the Wesleyan men is against Sterling on November 10 at 8 p.m. in Sterling.