Second Half Struggles Cost KWU Men Against Avila

Simply stated, everything that went right in the first half, didn’t in the second half.

“Avila played with more effort and more energy than we did in the second half,” Kansas Wesleyan head coach Anthony Monson said. “We talked the past couple days about effort and energy. I didn’t like our body language all night long. I thought that even in the first half thought we were sluggish and just not in rhythm at all.”

The Avila Eagles (4-5, 3-2) shot 64 percent from the field in the second half and outscored KWU 56-25 as the Eagles came back to beat KWU 84-64 on Monday night at Mabee Arena.

Wesleyan (7-3, 4-1) built an 11-point lead at the half, 39-28, but a 16-2 run by the Eagles gave Avila a 44-41 lead with 13:05 left in the game. After Zay Wilson (SR/Austin, Texas)’s bucket with 12:54 to go, Avila continued its charge led by Eric Smith, who scored 26 second half point and 34 for the game as the Eagles built a 63-46 lead with eight minutes left on a score by Smith.

“We were able to get some things going in the first half, but we were guarding. Then in the second half we give up 56 points. That’s very uncharacteristic of us,” Monson said.

Avila pushed its lead out to 24 points with two minutes left on a 3 by Smith.

“I told the guys in the locker room ‘I’m not concerned about the loss, a loss is a loss’,” Monson said. “But some guys were struggling mentally with their shot and that affected them the entire game.

When you go 0-for-14 from the 3-point line in a half, you can’t let the defense lapse. Sometimes you can ride that defense to the win, and tonight we just didn’t do that.”

Brendon Ganaway (SR/Houston, Texas) broke a 4-4 tie in the first half and Peyton Hatter (SO/Andover, Kan.)’s score with 13:54 left gave the Coyotes a 10-4 lead. A triple by Avila cut the lead to three, but the Coyotes would build a 19-9 advantage with 11:43 to go in the half at 19-9.

The Eagles got within three points with 7:48 left at 19-16 thanks to a 7-0 run, but a bucket by James Brooks (SR/Frontenac, Kan.) and a long-distance shot by Miles Koehler (SO/Athens, Texas) got the Coyotes back on track and up eight with 6:16 left.

“I thought we played well enough to have the halftime lead because we guarded,” Monson said. “It did seem like in the second half everything they threw up went in, and everything we threw up there didn’t.

“We missed some bunnies, some shots underneath, and started pressing some things and just couldn’t find our rhythm.”

Ganaway had 18 points to lead the Coyotes, who shot 50 percent in the first half (17-of-34), but just 10-of-40 (25 percent in the second half) and was the lone player in double figures. Peyton Hatter had eight and Brooks and Wilson also added eight. AJ Range (JR/Junction City, Kan.) had nine rebounds, helping KWU to a 42-41 advantage on the boards.

“Tonight it wasn’t our night, we gotta shake it off and get ourselves ready mentally, which we will, and get ready for a big one on Thursday,” Monson said.

The Coyotes will host Bethel on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Mabee Arena in the second of three games this week before heading to York, Neb. on Saturday to take on the Panthers.

*Photos by Tanner Colvin*