Women’s Basketball falls to Ottawa 74-70 in KCAC Quarterfinals

Kansas Wesleyan’s attempts to overcome a deficit one final time came up short.


Trailing by seven points with three minutes left in their Kansas Conference tournament quarterfinal against Ottawa the Coyotes narrowed gap to two twice in the final minute but couldn’t catch up in a 74-70 loss Thursday night inside Mabee Arena.


The third-seeded Coyotes end the season with a 19-10 record – 19-5 after losing their first five games. Sixth-seeded Ottawa (18-11) plays No. 7 Friends in Saturday’s semifinals in Ottawa after the Falcons upset No. 2 Bethany on Thursday.


Caila Hill‘s three-point play with 8:39 left in the game gave KWU a 61-57 lead before Ottawa went on a decisive 10-2 run that made it 67-63 with 5½ minutes remaining.


Five consecutive points got Wesleyan within 70-68 with 49 seconds left but Ottawa center Nicole Brown scored inside with 36 seconds remaining. Two LaMyah Ricks free throws with 13.7 seconds left got KWU within 72-70 but the Braves hung on, making two free throws the final 7.9 seconds while the Coyotes missed a desperation 3-pointer.


“We’ve got to finish plays and talked about that for three days,” KWU coach Ryan Showman said. “That was going to be the difference in the game and it certainly was.”


The game was a see-saw battle from start to finish with 14 lead changes and four ties. Ottawa’s biggest lead was seven; the Coyotes led by as many as six. KWU was in front 17-13 after one quarter, Ottawa had a 37-36 advantage at halftime and the Coyotes took a 55-54 lead into the fourth quarter.


The 6-foot-4 Brown was the primary culprit finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Ottawa won the rebounding battle 43-30 – 16 on the offensive end – but the Coyotes had more second chance points (14-10).


“She’s a really good player for them and caused us some problems tonight,” Showman said of Brown. “It just seemed like she was there to keep plays alive.”


Jayla Johnson added 18 points that included 5 of 6 shooting beyond the 3-point arc and had three steals for Ottawa, which shot 42 percent (26 of 62) including 9 of 21 beyond the arc.


Hill, playing in her final game for KWU, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Tylieea Wallace scored 16 and Ricks had 12 points and three steals.


KWU shot 44 percent (26 of 59) for the game, 37 percent (10 of 27) the second half. The Coyotes were 5 of 15 from long range but opportunities were scarce.


“They were pushing up on us, they were really aggressive,” Showman said. “We talked about what we needed to do to counter that. I thought we were good at times but other times we kind of got stagnant and you can’t do that against an athletic team.”


The Coyotes forced 18 Ottawa turnovers and committed 14 but the Braves scored 21 points of their mistakes.


“That was huge,” Showman said. “We had seven (turnovers) at halftime, we had seven the second half and they scored eight points – you can’t have a point per turnover.”


While deeply disappointed with the loss Showman found some solace in the progress his team made during the season.


“It was a team that grew throughout,” he said. “The neat thing about coaching is you get to see that process from the beginning of the season to the end. We had to find our way and we battled and I’m proud of them for what they did and how they came together and finished.”


Hill is the only senior on the roster.


“The future’s bright,” he said. “I told them this wasn’t the end; this was the beginning.”