By Mike Tupa


mtupa@examiner-enterprise.com


Gaining traction the past five weeks for the Oklahoma Wesleyan University women’s basketball team has been harder than a three-legged mule trying to climb a slippery slope.


Just two days following a fist-pumping win against the Bethany (Kan.) Lady Swedes, the OKWU Lady Eagles fell at home to Kansas Wesleyan, 73-63, on Saturday, at the Mueller Sports Center.


The loss dropped OKWU to 11-14 on the season and 7-10 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference; KWU improved to 16-10, 10-7.


OKWU also continued another pattern — the Lady Eagles are 10-2 when scoring at least 70 points and 1-13 when coming in at 69-or-fewer.


As has happened often this season, a slow start proved to be a major burden for the Lady Eagles.


Kansas Wesleyan bolted to a 22-14 advantage in the first 10 minutes — which end up being nearly the margin of victory.


OKWU surged back to trim the lead to two points, 38-36, heading into the break.


The flip-flop cycle of quarters saw Kansas Wesleyan win the third period, 19-10, to go ahead by 11, 57-46.


OKWU outpointed its visitor, 17-16, in the final stanza.


Shelbie Kirby canned 17 points, followed by Kayla Morgan with 15, to lead the Lady Eagle scoring sheet.


Tiffany Rieger added nine points.


Karlie Steinle canned 19 points for Kansas Wesleyan, while Gabbie Miller added 15 more.


Kansas Wesleyan dominated on the boards, 47-33, resulting in an advantage in second-chance points, 14-8.


OKWU, however, took better care of the ball (nine turnovers, compared to 17 for Kansas Wesleyan), and also outpointed Kansas Wesleyan in the paint, 20-14.


During the exciting fourth quarter, OKWU made a late run to get within three possessions.


With 1:55 left, Morgan netted a two-pointer to narrow the margin to seven points, 66-59.


However, Kansas Wesleyan responded eight seconds later with a pair of charity tosses by Steinle.


Kirby canned two free throws with 1:07 showing to pull OKWU back within seven points, 70-63.


That would close out the Lady Eagle scoring,


Next up, the Lady Eagles — who are coached by Jason Jeschke — will be home Monday to face Friends (Kan.) University.


Starting time is 5:30 p.m.


OKWU 76, Bethany 65


In Thursday’s classic at Lindsborg, Kan., the Lady Eagles smothered Bethany in the second period, 27-13, and held off Bethany’s 40-point output in the second half.


Kirby dropped in 19 points, followed by Amanda Hart with 17 and Rieger with 14, to energize the OKWU offense.


Grace Pospichal came off the pine to added nine points and three rebounds.


Kimi Lindshield fashioned a double-double (19 points, 10 boards) to pace Bethany.


OKWU started out by winning the first quarter, 15-12, and built a 17-point bulge going into halftime, 42-25. Bethany outscored OKWU, 40-34, in the final two quarters.


The Lady Eagles powered to a 15-point lead, 68-53, with 2:21 left, on Rieger’s deuce.


Bethany worked the margin back down to seven points, 72-65, with 47 ticks left.


OKWU finished up with a 4-0 run, on free throws by Rieger and Cheyenne Been.


Kansas Wesleyan 73, OKWU 63


KWU 22-16-19-16—73


OKWU 14-22-10-17—63


Kansas Wesleyan (16-10, 10-7)


Karlie Steinle 5-12 5-6 19, Brylee New 2-6 1-2 7, Sydney Mortensen 3-12 0-0 9, Ashley Heller 1-2 0-0 2, Gabbie Miller 6-9 3-4 15, Maddie Miller 4-8 0-0 8, Courtney Heinen 2-6 0-0 6, Haleigh Bradford 0-1 0-0 0, Mariah Knox 1-7 5-6 7, Shania Liggett 0-0 0-0 0, Britney Lewis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-63 14-18 73


Oklahoma Wesleyan (11-14, 7-10)


Shelbie Kirby 7-11 3-3 17, Kori Dyer 0-1 2-2 2, Grace Pospichal 3-7 0-0 7, Cheyenne Been 2-8 0-0 5, Briana Merchant 0-1 0-0 0, Tiffany Rieger 4-9 0-0 9, Kayla Morgan 6-9 0-0 15, Amanda Hart 1-11 0-0 2, Sierra Crow 0-0 0-0 0, Mary Hutchins 2-4 0-0 4, Patience Gitau 0-2 0-0 0, Sarah Short 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 26-65 5-5 63


OKWU 76, Bethany 65


OKWU 15-27-16-18—76


Bethany 12-13-19-21—65


Oklahoma Wesleyan ( 11-13, 7-9)


Tiffany Rieger 4-10 4-4 14, Sierra Crow 0-0 0-0 0, Amanda Hart 6-10 3-5 17, Patience Gitau 2-2 0-0 4, Cassidy McNespey 0-0 0-0 0, Sarah Short 1-2 0-1 2, Briana Merchant 0-0 0-0 0, Cheyenne Been 1-5 4-4 6, Grace Pospichal 2-5 4-4 9, Kori Dyer 0-2 0-0 0, Raven Gaddis 0-0 0-0 0, Shelbie Kirby 8-20 2-2 19, Kayla Morgan 2-3 0-0 5, Mary Hutchins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-59 17-20 76


Bethany College (7-16, 5-12)


Sydney Ahaneku 1-3 3-10 5, Dehring Scudder 0-2 0-0 0, Tehya Peters 3-13 1-2 7, Ciera Wong 1-2 0-0 3, Samm Ashida 4-16 2-3 12, Samirah Miller 5-11 2-2 14, Kimi Lindshield 7-10 5-10 19, Abreale Favors 1-4 0-0 3, Brooklynn Meinke 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 22-62 15-29 65.