Basketball is a game of runs sometimes.
The No. 24 ranked Bethel Threshers used a 15-3 run in the first half to push out to a 52-35 lead that proved to be too much of a deficit for the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes to find their way back from in an 85-74 loss on Wednesday at Mabee Arena.
“Unfortunately, we dug ourselves that hole in the first half with that big run they put on us,” Wesleyan coach Anthony Monson said. “We were able to make a little bit of a run but we never got it down to that two-possession game. We needed to make some more shots and we didn’t do that.”
The Coyotes had just battled back from a 13-point deficit earlier in the half.
Bethel (23-6, 18-5 KCAC) had taken a 28-15 lead with 11:07 left in the first on a bucket by leading scorer Jaylon Scott, but Wesleyan (18-10, 14-9) responded with a bucket by Jun Murdock (SO/Wichita, Kan.) and a 3 by Marcel Dean (SO/Tucson, Ariz.), followed by a three-point play by AJ Range (SR/Junction City, Kan.) to get back within five at 28-23 on the heels of an 8-0 run with 9:08 left.
The Coyotes were within five at 37-32 on a free throw by Tyus Jeffries (SR/Oklahoma City, Okla.) with 4:57 left in the half when Bethel made its run. Javen Hutton’s free throws with 51 seconds left before the half gave Bethel its biggest lead of the night at 52-35 before the Threshers took a 53-37 lead into the half.
Trailing by 16 with 17:30 left, the Coyotes made a run at Bethel again, getting within seven on Easton Hunter (FR/Colwich, Kan.)’s free throws with 13:36 left that made it 59-52.
Six quick points by Bethel pushed the Threshers’ lead back out to 13 with 11:28 to go.
“They made some big shots, big plays and we have to answer that but we didn’t make enough plays tonight,” Monson said. “It’s a good team and is the reason they are where they are.”
The Coyotes got back within seven at 74-67 but could get no closer as Bethel took a 79-67 lead on a 3 by Scott as the shot clock expired with 2:48 left.
Dean answered for the Coyotes with his own left corner triple, but Wesleyan could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Range and Murdock led the Coyotes with 15 points each while Jeffries added 13 as the Coyotes were 27 of 64 shooting for the game for 42.2 percent, but hit just 5 of 21 3-pointers for 23.8 percent. Range had eight rebounds to help KWU edge the Threshers on the boards 35-33.
Scott had 27 to lead all scorers for Bethel while three other Thresher players reached double digits in scoring.
“The bottom line is we weren’t good enough as a team tonight,” Monson said.
Wesleyan will close the regular season on Saturday in Wichita against Friends inside the Garvey Center at 7 p.m.
The KCAC Postseason Tournament starts Tuesday for the men. KWU will host a first-round game at 7 p.m. inside Mabee Arena.
Seedings and first-round match-ups will be announced on Saturday evening by the KCAC.