Men’s Basketball tripped up by Evangel in overtime 89-85

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Kansas Wesleyan battled back from a seven point deficit in the second half, but gave up its own seven-point cushion in the final 90 seconds as Evangel forced overtime and came away with an 89-85 win on Wednesday night at the Ashcroft Center.Wesleyan head coach Anthony Monson was frustrated with his team’s performance on the defensive end of the floor.“We just weren’t guarding, we were letting them get downhill, we weren’t disciplined, kept leaving our feet, got beat on slips all over the place despite spending the last three days working on them,” he said. “We just didn’t execute at the end of the day. For me it was a frustrating night because we lost this game, we had a chance to close it out and win it, but we couldn’t get stops. We needed one stop in their last five possessions, and we didn’t get any of them.”The Coyotes trailed 50-43 with 11:23 left in the game and battled back with a 10-0 run to take a 53-50 lead on Easton Hunter’s free throws with 8:46 to go. Evangel tied it at 53, then again at 58 before the Coyotes pressed ahead to a 73-66 lead with 1:37 left.The Valor scored the final seven points of regulation, but the Coyotes had a look at a final shot by Jun Murdock that was blocked, forcing overtime.“Hats off to them for making plays and getting it to overtime, but honestly, I feel like we lost this game, I don’t think they won it, and that’s just how I feel,” Monson said. “I feel like we had a chance. When we needed to get stops, we weren’t executing on the defensive end and they had wide open looks, we gave up offensive boards, that’s been our Achilles’ Heel all year, another 16 tonight. Until we learn to fix these mistakes we are going to continue to be in battles like this.”Evangel’s Josh Pritchett scored 10 of his 26 points in overtime as the Valor built an 85-80 lead with 2:03 to go in the extra session.A bucket by Murdock with 4.8 left got the Coyotes back within two, but Evangel hit free throws with 2.1 left to seal the victory.The teams battled back and forth through the first half, with Evangel having the biggest lead of the half at 6-0 to open the game. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Hunter got the Coyotes back even and the Coyotes took their first lead at 10-9 on a bucket by Alex Littlejohn.The lead bounced back and forth several times in the half eventually settling with Evangel leading 33-32 at the half.Izaiah Hale gave the Coyotes a 35-33 lead to start the second half on a three-point play and Gabe Phillips scored to give the Coyotes a 41-40 lead with 15:36 left. Evangel took a 43-41 lead with 14:17 left on a 3-pointer by Pritchett and a bucket by Thurbil Bile tied it at 43-all when Evangel made its run, scoring seven straight to take a 50-43 lead with 11:23 left.“We’ve got to get better on the defensive end, we’ve got to get stops, keep them from getting offensive boards and limit them to one and done,” Monson said. “When we do that we are pretty good, when we don’t do that it’s pretty tough on us.”Izaiah Hale led the Coyotes with 23 points as KWU was 27 of 64 from the field for 42.2 percent in the game, and 7 of 25 from 3-point range for 28 percent. Hunter and Bile scored 14 each, Murdock had 13 and Littlejohn 11. Littlejohn had another double-double with 10 rebounds, and Murdock flirted with a triple-double with nine assists and seven rebounds.Hunter also tied the career record for 3-pointers in the game with his triple with 5:11 left. He ties Blake Turner’s record of 215 set in 2000.The Coyotes return home on Saturday, hosting McPherson at 7 p.m. inside Mabee Arena. McPherson outlasted Friends 71-66 on Wednesday night in McPherson.