#7 Ottawa finds themselves in first place all alone after this week of play despite falling on the road by one point against (RV) Bethel. The Braves came all the way back from double digits against the Threshers and eventually took the lead but were unable to hang on. Ottawa bounced back at home on Saturday, earning a hard-fought win against Friends. Jaquan Daniels led the team with 21 points in the team’s win. The Braves currently hold a one-game lead for first place at 14-4.
#16 Oklahoma Wesleyan remains in sole possession of second place after also finishing their week with a 1-1 record. The Eagles had a tough battle on Wednesday with Sterling, actually trailing the Warriors by a point at halftime before coming out strong in the second en route to a 17-point victory. The team then fell in a close battle to Southwestern at home on Saturday by a score of 66-62. The Eagles remain the NAIA’s top rebounding team, but had their third-lowest rebounding total in their loss against Southwestern. Brooks Haddock finished that battle with a game-high 29 points.
McPherson secured their third 100-point performance of the year on Wednesday in a dominant home win over Saint Mary. The Bulldogs were then tripped up on the road on Saturday, falling to the Sterling Warriors on the road by four. The team saw five players reach double figures, but were unable to get over the hump and grab the lead from Sterling. The Bulldogs currently sit a half-game ahead of Bethel for third place, but are now tied in the loss column. McPherson will close out the season with four of their final five games coming against teams with winning records in conference play.
RV Bethel arguably had the biggest and most impactful week of any KCAC team, beginning with their one-point home win over #7 Ottawa, led by Garrett White’s 19 points and four steals. Remaining at home over the weekend, the Threshers saw no letdown in their next contest—a crucial win over the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes, who they entered the game tied with in the KCAC standings. Bethel now sits alone in fourth place, but by the slimmest of margins as they are just a half game up on Friends.
Friends saw 21 points from James Conley to start the week in the team’s blowout home victory over the Bethany Swedes in Wichita. The Falcons then fell to #7 Ottawa on the road on Saturday, but played well— falling by just five points. The team was led again by Conley, finishing with a game-high 24 points. Friends sits at 12-7 in league play and will have four of their final five games played at home. The Falcons are 7-3 in their home arena this season.
Kansas Wesleyan avenged an early-season loss on Wednesday, defeating a struggling Avila Eagles team at home by a score of 91-85. The team then saw their five-game winning streak snapped on Saturday at (RV) Bethel. The Coyotes led the game by 11 at halftime and gave up 54 second-half points to the Threshers. KWU saw a nice game from Brendon Ganaway in the loss, finishing with 26 points on 8-12 shooting. The Coyotes will have two home games this week against two teams fighting for tournament berths in York and Saint Mary.
Southwestern bounced back from a home loss to Sterling with a 66-62 road victory over #16 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Saturday in the team’s only game of the week. Over the last three seasons, the Moundbuilders are a perfect 3-0 at Oklahoma Wesleyan, a place where the Eagles have just five losses since 2017. Geoff Salas scored 22 points off the bench as the Builders finished off a series sweep over OKWU and now remain just two games out of third place in a log-jammed KCAC.
York got 57 combined points from Michael Tolbert and Eric Linear in their 95-93 overtime victory over Tabor at home on Saturday. Against a Bluejays team that is playing much better, the Panthers blocked a last-second three-point attempt from the Bluejays to secure the victory, leapfrogging them into the eighth and final qualifying spot in the conference. York will have back-to-back opportunities to gain some ground in the league, facing Kansas Wesleyan and Southwestern this upcoming week.
CURRENTLY OUT OF KCAC CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Saint Mary sits a half game behind York for the eighth spot in the KCAC after going 1-2 on the week. The Spires started off the week on a high note, defeating Avila at home—a team they are battling with for that final KCAC-tournament qualifying spot. The team then dropped consecutive games, including a 20-point home loss to Bethany on Saturday. Four of the team’s final five games are set to take place on the road, including a season finale contest against Avila.
Avila now sees themselves two games out of eighth place and hurt their chances with their Monday loss at Saint Mary. The Eagles have now suffered six straight losses and have been defeated in 11 of their last 12 games. The good news out of this rough stretch is that the one did in this losing skid did come against York, who they are chasing in the standings. Avila went 0-3 on the week, which included a 15-point loss to last-place Tabor on Saturday. The Eagles will begin the upcoming week on the road at #7 Ottawa.
Bethany snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a dominating performance at Saint Mary that resulted in a 20-point victory. The Swedes remain a long-shot at making a run at the KCAC tournament, but are certainly not out of it sitting at 6-13 in league and 2.5 games behind York. The good news is that three of their fives game left on their schedule include games against teams with losing records in league play—with two of those coming against teams below them. The other two games versus Southwestern and Bethel will be played at home in Lindsborg, setting a very winnable remaining slate of games for the Swedes.
Sterling played spoiler yet again this past week, this time knocking off then-second place McPherson at home 96-92. The Warriors also played tough in their outing and despite losing by 17 actually led at halftime over #16 Oklahoma Wesleyan. Sterling continues to get contributions from all over their roster and will have plenty to say on how the rest of the league finishes out the year.
Tabor continues to play much improved basketball, picking up their second win of the season in a dominating performance over Avila. The Bluejays continue to ride the hot hand of Tyler Zinn, who average 34 points per game on the week. The Bluejays are mathematically eliminated from making the conference tournament, but will also have a big say in how the rest of the conference fares.
KCAC POWER RANKINGS
(7) Ottawa – Maintains a one-game lead for first place
(16) Oklahoma Wesleyan – Holds sole possession of second place
(RV) Bethel – Two huge wins that helped them jump up in the standings
McPherson – Suffered loss at Sterling, remains in third place
Friends – Picked up 20-point home win and battled tough at #7 Ottawa
Southwestern – Swept season series over Oklahoma Wesleyan with 66-62 road win
Kansas Wesleyan – Finished 1-1 on the week
York – Jumped into eighth place with overtime win over Tabor
Saint Mary – Went 1-2 with big win over Avila, currently in ninth place
Bethany – Went 1-1 on week with 20-point win at Saint Mary
Sterling – Defeated third-place McPherson
Avila – Lost 11 of 12 and six straight
Tabor – Picked up second win of season on Saturday
GAMES OF THE WEEK
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5
McPherson at #16 Oklahoma Wesleyan
McPherson is one game behind Oklahoma Wesleyan for second place
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8
RV Bethel at McPherson
Bethel sits a half game behind McPherson for third place
#16 Oklahoma Wesleyan at Friends
Rematch of Friends’ one-point win at Oklahoma Wesleyan earlier this year