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The KWU Women fall to Ottawa in the KCAC Quarterfinals

KWU sports information

Kansas Wesleyan’s attempts to overcome a deficit one last time failed.

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

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

Three-point play by Caila Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) with 8:39 left in the game gave KWU a 61-57 lead before Ottawa went on a deciding 10-2 run that brought the 67-63 with 5 and a half minutes remaining.

Five straight points put Wesleyan up 70-68 with 49 seconds left, but Ottawa center Nicole Brown scored inside with 36 seconds left. Two free throws by LaMyah Ricks (JR / Shawnee Mission, Kan.) with 13.7 seconds left brought KWU within 72-70, but the Braves held on, making two free throws in the final 7.9 seconds as the Coyotes held missed a desperate triple.

“We have to finish the shows and we’ve been talking about it for three days,” KWU head coach Ryan Showman said. “That would have been the difference in the game and it certainly was.”

The match was an up-and-down battle from start to finish with 14 lead changes and four draws. Ottawa’s biggest lead was seven; the Coyotes led by as many as six. KWU led 17-13 after one quarter, Ottawa had a 37-36 lead at halftime, and the Coyotes led 55-54 into the fourth quarter.

The 6-foot-4 Brown was the main offender as he finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Ottawa won the battle on rebounding 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 she’s caused us some problems tonight,” Showman said of Brown. “It just felt like she was there to keep the comedies alive.”

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

Hill, playing in his final game for KWU, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Tylieea Wallace (SO/Overland Park, Kan.) had 16 points and Ricks had 12 points and three steals.

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

“They were pushing us, they were really aggressive,” Showman said. “We talked about what we needed to do to counter that. Sometimes I thought we were good, but other times we’ve gotten 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 on their errors.

“It was huge,” Showman said. “We had seven (lost lost) at half-time, we had seven in the second half and they scored eight points – you can’t have a point every time you lose.”

Though deeply disappointed in the loss, Showman found solace in the progress his team made throughout the season.

“It was a team that grew all over the place,” he said. “The nice thing about training is that you can see that process from the beginning to the end of the season. We had to find our way and we fought 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 is bright,” he said. “I told them this wasn’t the end; this was the beginning.”

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