LINDSBORG — There is a new candidate for KCAC Upset of the Year.
The last-place Bethany College women, who entered Saturday’s game scraping around in the KCAC’s basement with just one conference win, figured to be the perfect foil for co-leader Kansas Wesleyan.
But when Bethany and Kansas Wesleyan — easily the most intense rivalry in the KCAC — get together, all bets are off.
The Swedes stunned the Coyotes in the first half by racing to a 30-20 lead, then kept on rolling for a shocking 65-50 victory.
The upset was one thing, but the 15-point margin of victory was purely shocking, considering the Swedes were 1-12 in the KCAC and 2-23 overall.
Amazingly, Bethany led by as many as 22, 61-39, on a night it honored its history of women’s basketball, which at one time was among the best in the KCAC before cratering in the last few years.
“From the start, we were disciplined on offense and defense,” Bethany coach Brett Morehouse said. “We tweaked our zone and our man defenses to try and limit some of Wesleyan's strengths and our players were phenomenal in their execution. They really had to fight their instincts in terms of our normal rotations, but in one day, this group was able to grasp the changes but more importantly, put them into practice on the floor.”
Adriane Davis, who had been battling a severe slump, erupted for 30 points to put the Swedes on her back. Royce Shields added 13.
Vanessa Kresin scored 16 for KW and Jenna Farris had 10. The Coyotes shot an unsightly 19 percent in the first half and 21 percent for the game, as they must have thought they were going through an out-of-body experience after entering the game tied with Tabor for the KCAC’s top spot at 10-3.
The Swedes will try to play giant-killer again Thursday when they play at nationally ranked Friends.
Bethany (65) — Davis 30, Shields 13, Norton 3, Shetlar 4, Chanco 9, Ahaneku 2, Jackson 4.
KW (50) — Kresin 16, Patton 7, Wilson 3, Steinle 2, Farris 10, Bergstrom 2, LeShore 4, Hula 6.
• BETHANY MEN 86, KW 71 — Bethany College All-America candidate Cody Harris made sure there was no upset in the men’s game.
The high-flying Harris dunked all over the Coyotes and finished with a career-high 36 points as the Swedes shook loose in the second half after being up only 40-38.
Bethany, whose defense has been among the poorest statistically in the KCAC, held the Coyotes to 33 second-half points.
Harris made 13 of 25 shots, including seven treys as he simply was in “the zone.”
“This was a high-energy, intense game with both teams playing with a lot of passion in a typical Bethany-Kansas Wesleyan game,” said Bethany coach Clair Oleen, whose team remained a game back in the KCAC at 10-4 and is 18-7 overall. “I liked our defensive intensity, especially in the second half. We turned a lot of defensive stops into points at the other end. Hahn Gymnasium was rocking and I would like to thank our students and fans for being the best in the KCAC. Down the stretch of the season, every game is a championship game for us and we hope our students and alumni will come out in droves in Wichita this Thursday night."
The Swedes also received 20 points off the bench from Jonathan Gidson and 11 from Gary Jones. Oleen used only seven players, five of whom played at least 30 minutes.
Jacob Lunz led KW with 17 points.
The Swedes’ championship hopes probably will be determined this week when they play Thursday at Friends, then host KCAC leader Tabor on Saturday.
Bethany (86) — Jones 11, McLin 8, Harris 36, Smith 6, Gidson 20, Huskey 5.
KW (71) — Lunz 17, M. Johnson 13, Hidalgo 2, D. Johnson 14, Dutra 9, Criswell 10, Roth 2, Neri 4.