Kansas Wesleyan made one stirring comeback in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma Wesleyan, but couldn’t duplicate the feat in overtime.
The top-seeded and No. 14-ranked Coyotes rallied from a 10-points deficit at the start of the final period and forced overtime when Kelcey Hinz (SO/Whitewater, Kan.) made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left.
But OKWU, the No. 8 seed, scored five of the game’s last six points and hung on for a 73-70 upset victory in a quarterfinal game of the Kansas Conference tournament Wednesday night at Mabee Arena.
The setback ended the Coyotes’ seven-game winning streak and dropped their overall record to 25-6. The season isn’t over, though, as they have two weeks to regroup before playing the NAIA Division II National Tournament that starts March 11 in Sioux City, Iowa.
The tournament bracket will be revealed at 6 p.m. on March 4.
OKWU (16-14) advances to the semifinals and a game against fifth-seeded Avila on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. Avila overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and defeated Tabor 55-50 on Wednesday in Hillsboro.
The Coyotes trailed 58-48 entering the fourth quarter after OKWU closed the third period on a 12-2 run – KWU scoring two points the final 3:12.
They battled back, though, and drew even, 65-65, on Hinz’s two foul shots.
Hinz, who scored KWU’s final 11 points of the game and finished with 33, gave the Coyotes a brief 69-68 lead with 1:21 left in overtime. But Makayla Watkins’ 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining put OKWU on top for good.
Hinz made one of two free throws with 50.9 seconds left, making it 71-70, before Ashley Cook scored with 25.5 seconds left for the Eagles. The Coyotes misfired on their last two shots in the waning seconds.
The Coyote culprit for was poor shooting. They shot 33 percent for the game (24 of 73) and were 2 of 17 beyond the arc. OKWU was 10 of 25 from deep and shot 40.6 percent overall (26 of 64).
“The girls did a great job in the fourth quarter coming back and giving themselves a chance in overtime, but at the end of the day you’ve got to make shots and we just didn’t,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said. “We were 4 of 13, 3 of 19 and 6 of 18 (shooting) from three of our really good offensive players (Amanda Hill (JR/Rossville, Kan.), Haleigh Bradford (SR/Schertz, Texas) and Courtney Heinen (SR/Axtell, Kan.)). Off nights happen but it was all three at the same time on the same night. We’ve just got to be better.
“We’ve still got some season left, but it’s tough right now.”
Hinz carried the offensive load, going 10 of 17 from the field and also grabbed 19 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season.
“I thought she was really good,” Showman said. “We tried to get it into her and she was one of the people we could count on to go down and get a bucket. She did a nice job.”
An 11-0 run midway through the second quarter gave the Coyotes a 32-22 lead with 5½ minutes left in the half, but OKWU answered with an 11-0 surge of its own and the game was tied 33-33 at halftime.
“They made shots and they had another one of those runs at the end of the third to give them a 10-point advantage,” Showman said. “They did what they had to do to come on the road and beat the number one seed. They hit shots, they hit big shots.”
KWU won the rebounding battle 50-39 and had 23 offensive rebounds, but just 21 second chance points. The Coyotes outscored OKWU 38-26 in the paint.
Cierra Johnson was 4 of 7 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 15 points for OKWU. Amanda Hart and Cook added 11 points each.
Showman said the time off will help.
“Looking big picture this gives us a chance to rest and recover,” he said. “It gives us a chance to get better in some areas and move on to Iowa. We’ve got a game in about two weeks and we’re going to use this time to get ready for that.
“Really disappointed to lose, but still have some things ahead of us.”