A poor shooting night from the free throw line turned what could have been a comfortable win for the Bethel College men’s basketball team into an 82-77 loss to Kansas Wesleyan Saturday night in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.

Bethel was 10 of 23 from the line, while KWU was 18 of 24. Bethel did hold a 27-6 advantage in 3-point scoring, but the Coyotes’ second trey of the night came with 34.1 seconds remaining and gave KWU the lead for good.

“We went up seven with about five minutes to go and had opportunities,” Bethel coach Tony Hoops said. “That one burns. That one burns because everything I asked them to change the last two days since that bad performance at Tabor, they did. They responded. They grinded. The bought into each other. They just weren’t rewarded with a victory there. But it also shows what we are capable of to be successful.

“I’m not sure what the issue is with the free throws. Free throws can be such a weird thing in college basketball. We’ve been such a good free throw shooting team. It’s not like we stopped working on them any different than we already had.”

Jordan McNelly led Kansas Wesleyan, 5-4 overall and 3-2 in KCAC play, with 28 points and eight rebounds. Rashaun Allen scored 11 points. Raul Neri and Terell Gandy each scored 10 points.

Poe Bryant led Bethel with 19 points, followed by David Harris with 11 and Dakota Foster with 10. All three came off the bench for the Threshers.

“McNelly is a good player,” Hoops said. “We did a much better job on him the second half. He’s very good at picking his spots, posting up. We did a better job preventing him from doing that in the second half.”

Bethel trailed 9-2 early, but fought back to tie the game 18-18. A Sam Morgan trey with 8:24 left in the half put Bethel up 21-20. Neither team led by more than four in the remainder of the first half. Raul Neri hit a layup with two seconds left in the period to put Wesleyan up 38-35.

The Coyotes were 16 of 30 shooting in the first half, while Bethel was 12 of 30. Bethel did hold a 12-3 advantage in 3-point shooting, but was hampered by seven of 16 free throw shooting.

Bethel pulled away by as many as five early in the second half, missing a couple of chances to extend it.

Kansas Wesleyan took advantage of the Bethel drought to take a four-point lead midway in the half.

A Bryant layup with 6:41 to play put Bethel up 69-68. Bethel extended the lead to seven on a Terrell Marshall layup with 3:33 to play.

Kansas Wesleyan drew within one on a McNelly layup with 2:30 in regulation. Thirty seconds later, Bryant hit two of three free throws.

McNelly hit two free throws with 1:49 to play to get KWU within one. Rashaun Allen put the Coyotes back in the lead with a trey with 34.1 seconds in regulation.

Bethel missed a layup on the other end. Nathaniel Leach followed with one of two free throws with 18.6 seconds remaining.

After a missed 3-pointer for Bethel, Allen hit two free throws to put the game away.

“Tonight, we were so much better defensively, except for the last two minutes,” Hoops said. “I thought we were more disciplined.”

Bethel is 2-8, 1-4 in KCAC play, and hosts Sterling at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Thresher Gym. The Warriors are 3-7, 1-4 in KCAC play, topping McPherson 84-75 Saturday for their first conference win of the season.

“They’re young,” Hoops said. “For us, it’s not about who we play. It’s about us staying invested in the process. The worst thing we can do is panic. For this team, we need to see what we grew from tonight and build on that. We can’t let the scoreboard dictate a level of success.”

KANSAS WESLEYAN (5-4, 3-2 KCAC) — Raul Neri 4-6 2-3 10, Nathaniel Leach 0-3 4-6 4, Marquis Kraemer 0-1 0-0 0, Terell Gandy 4-7 2-2 10, Jamon Fulton 0-3 0-2 0, Jordan McNelly 12-16 4-5 28, Ithello Cross 3-3 0-0 6, Ernest Carter 3-8 0-0 6, AJ Range 0-1 0-0 0, Rashun Allen 3-7 4-4 11, Brayden White 1-2 2-2 4, Zach Rammelt 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS 31-58 18-24 82.

BETHEL (2-8, 1-4 KCAC) — Chase Banister 3-9 0-0 7, Maurice Jordan 2-11 0-0 5, David Harris 4-7 1-4 11, Joe Rushing 3-12 1-2 7, Poe Bryant 5-10 8-13 19, Trey Sleep 4-6 0-0 8, Sam Morgan 2-3 0-0 6, Dakota Foster 4-6 0-0 10, Terrell Marshall 2-4 0-4 4. TOTALS 29-68 10-23 77.



Total fouls — KW 21, BC 21. Technical fouls — KW: McNelly 4:45-1h. BC: Rushing 4:56-1h. Fouled out — BC: Foster :02.2-2H. 3-point shooting — KW 2-10 (Leach 0-1, Gandy 0-1, Fulton 0-2, Carter 0-1, Allen 1-3, White 0-1, Rammelt 1-1), BC 9-22 (Banister 1-4, Jordan 1-6, Harris 2-4, Rushing 0-1, Bryant 1-1, Morgan 2-3, Foster 2-2, Marshall 0-1). Rebounds — KW 36 (McNelly 8), BC 34 (Harris 6, Bryant 6). Assists — KW 15 (Gandy 3, Allen 3, White 3), BC 16 (Jordan 3, Harris 3, Bryant 3, Marshall 3). Turnovers — KW 16 (White 3), BC 11 (Bannister 3). Blocked shots — KW 3 (Kraemer 1, Cross 1, Allen 1), BC 4 (Bryant 2). Steals — KW 6 (White 2), BC 8 (Harris 3).