TOUGH WEEK: OKWU Eagles suffer home setback
It's just one of those weeks -- one of those rare, rare, rare weeks where the Oklahoma Wesleyan University men's basketball team lost back-to-back games.
Coming out of last weekend, OKWU's record stood at 19-1, the team had won 15-straight games and owned the No. 2 ranking (NAIA) in the nation.
But, a loss on Monday to Bethany (Kan.), 68-61, followed by a home setback Thursday against Bethel (Kan.), 72-61, has altered OKWU's season storyline.
Next Wednesday's showdown against Kansas Wesleyan (19-2, 13-2) becomes almost a must-win game for the Eagles as far as their quest to win the regular season title of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
One has to go back to 2020 for the last time the Eagles suffered back-to-back defeats, and back to the December of 2017 for the last time the team endured consecutive conference losses.
Bethel dominated the second half, 46-28, to pull past the Eagles.
A major part of OKWU's challenge Thursday night might have been rust.
Starters Brandon Bird and Derrick Talton Jr. both returned to the lineup after extended time off.
Bird had missed numerous games due to an ankle injury and Talton had been unavailable for two or three games.
Talton made a solid return return with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists against Bethel. Bird checked in with four points but attempted only two field goals.
Rounding out OKWU's main contributors were Kaleb Stokes (12 points, six rebounds, four assists), Jaden Lietzke (nine points, 11 rebounds) and Austin Poling (nine points, one steal, one block).
For Bethel (13-8, 11-5), Bryant Mocaby and Harper Jones both dialed in 13 points and combined for 10 rebounds; Clifford Byrd II led the team with 17 points.
Bethel won the game behind the three-point arc, sinking nine treys compared to four for OKWU.
The Eagles defense didn't give up a point in the final two minutes, the margin proved too big for the offense to catch up.
OKWU still is in great shape with a half-game lead atop the conference standings and one win already against Kansas Wesleyan.
On Saturday, OKWU travels to Friends (Kan.), where the Eagles will focus on getting back their winning style.
They eye a five-game schedule in February to finish up with a blast entering into the national tournament.
This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: Oklahoma Wesleyan University men's basketball suffers rare home 'L'