Second Half Struggles For KWU Men Continue in Loss to No. 22 Bethel

The second half has not been kind to the Kansas Wesleyan men’s basketball team of late.

The Coyotes led Avila by 11 points at halftime Monday night, but struggled in the second half in an 84-64 loss at Mabee Arena. Thursday night they led No. 22 Bethel 39-31 at the break, but couldn’t close the deal in a 70-65 loss at Mabee Arena.

Ironically, KWU shot 50 percent the first half in both games, but cooled off the final 20 minutes – 25 percent against Avila and 31.4 percent against Bethel.

Coach Anthony Monson said Thursday’s second half wasn’t the same as Monday, though.

“I told the guys after the game ‘that wasn’t an effort thing tonight, you guys didn’t quit,'” he said. “This wasn’t a rout like the game we had (Monday), we didn’t quit, we played a lot harder but the same thing is true, we’ve got to find a way to hit shots. We’ve got to find a way for some of our best shooters to hit shots.”

Brendon Ganaway (SR/Houston, Texas) led the Coyotes with 21 points, 16 the first half, while A.J. Range had 14, 12 the first half. Braydon White was the exception, scoring eight of his 10 points the final 20 minutes and also had five assists, four steals, three rebounds and one turnover.

“When he’s aggressive it helps us dramatically,” Monson said of White.

The Coyotes were 17 of 34 shooting the first half, including 4 of 10 from 3-point range, but 11 of 35 overall and 3 of 17 from beyond the arc the second. They were also 2 of 6 from the foul line for the game while Bethel was 15 of 21.

“We were up eight (at halftime) because we were playing with pace, we were getting up and down the floor, lot of energy and we converted around the basket,” Monson said. “The second half we didn’t convert around the basket.

“We shot 10 threes the first half and 17 the second half. We played much more slow, took a while to get into our offense, we had miscommunication on a set or two … When that stuff happens it gets harder and harder and each shot gets harder and harder. We need to play with more pace, we’re not playing fast enough. We’ve got to get some fight back, we’ve got to get some grit back, and we will.”

Down 39-31 at halftime, Bethel opened the second half on a 14-2 run. The Coyotes finally gained their stride and a Ganaway basket with 8:10 left tied it at 53.

Bethel, though, scored seven of the next nine points and eventually built the lead to 65-58 with 1:12 remaining. KWU got within four twice, 65-61 with 45 seconds left and 67-63 with 33 seconds remaining. The Threshers closed it out, though, by making 5 of 8 free throws the final 42.7 seconds.

Jaylon Scott scored all 14 of his points the second half and Poe Bryant had 25 for Bethel. The Threshers entered the game shooting 30.8 percent from 3-point range, but were 11 of 26 (42.3 percent).

They out-rebound the Coyotes 40-34, led by Scott with 13, but also had 17 turnovers while KWU finished with 11.

“I thought we did a great job taking away their transition, for the most part, and making them a jump shooting team,” Monson said. “They came in averaging nearly 90 points (88.1) and barely got to 70. It was more that we didn’t play well on the offensive end. The second half we go cold.”

The Coyotes travel to Nebraska for a game against York on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. The Panthers, who were idle Thursday, are 8-4 overall and 4-2 in the KCAC. They defeated Tabor 73-52 Monday in Hillsboro in their last game.

“We’ve got to keep working at it, it’s early in the season and we’re still in good shape right now,” Monson said. “But we’ve got to find a way to get a win on Saturday.”