The Kansas Wesleyan women knew they would have to take advantage of every easy scoring opportunity they encountered against the defensive-minded Tabor Bluejays in their game Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes were unable to do so.
They misfired on makeable shots throughout the game which in turn helped fuel three pivotal Tabor scoring runs and resulted in a 59-51 Kansas Conference loss at Mabee Arena.
KWU fell to 6-5 overall and 2-3 in the KCAC while Tabor improved to 4-3 and 3-2.
The Bluejays entered the game ranked second in scoring defense in the conference at 59.3 points, but were coming off a 77-55 road loss to KCAC leader Sterling on Monday.
They regained their defensive mojo Saturday, limiting KWU to 34 percent shooting (21 of 62). Tabor also won the rebounding battle 42-32 that included 14 offensive rebounds and led to 17 second chance points.
The Coyotes’ offensive woes began early on when they missed seven of their first eight shots and trailed 12-2 five minutes into the game.
They appeared to gain their offensive footing, scoring the first 11 points of the second quarter for a 21-16 lead, but Tabor responded with an 11-0 run – the Coyotes missing four shots and committing three turnovers during that span.
Tabor led 47-33 at halftime.
The situation became critical when the Bluejays opened the third quarter by scoring nine of the first 11 points and led 38-25 with 6:21 left in the quarter – KWU missing four of its first five shots.
“We didn’t get off to a great start in the first quarter, we didn’t get off to a great start coming out in the third and I thought those two stretches really made it tough for us to win tonight,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said.
“I thought we finished the second quarter with a lot of momentum going into halftime and then we just came out flat. We just didn’t have that spark.”
Down 54-43 with 3½ minutes left in the game the Coyotes made things interesting, scoring eight consecutive points – Amanda Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) accounting for six on a 3-pointer and three-point play that made it 54-51 with 1:59 remaining.
But Tabor scored the last five points while the Coyotes were 0 for 4 from the field and turned it over twice.
Showman lamented the large number of easy shots his team missed.
“At the end of the day we just weren’t good enough offensively,” he said. “We missed way too many shots, shots that we’d had a lot of success with this year.
“You’ve got to give some credit to Tabor, they’re a really good halfcourt defensive team, but I thought at times, in stretches, we were our own worst enemy whether it was the turnovers (14) or the missed shots.”
Kelcey Hinz (JR/Whitewater, Kan.) led KWU with another double-double – 17 points and 11 rebounds, and also blocked three shots. Hill had 16 points, eight in the fourth quarter.
Defensively the Coyotes were solid, holding Tabor to 40 percent shooting (23 of 58), including 4 of 16 from deep. Kasey Rice led the Bluejays with 15 points, 12 in the second half.
“For the third straight game I was pleased defensively,” Showman said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we can hold teams in this league in the 50s, we’re going to win a lot of games.
“Against the really good teams you’ve got to be able to finish plays, you’ve got to be consistent for 40 minutes and we didn’t do that tonight. We just didn’t do enough to beat a good team.”
The Coyotes are scheduled to play York on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m. in York, Neb. in their next outing.