With the game tied with 20 seconds remaining, Kansas Wesleyan guard Terell Gandy wasn’t afraid of the moment.
The senior delivered with a go-ahead jumper from the right elbow with 1.9 seconds left, classmate Raul Neri powered his way to a career-high 23 points and the Coyotes (13-10, 11-6) stunned No. 6 Southwestern at Stewart Field House 75-73. The win combined with a Sterling loss guaranteed KWU a spot in the KCAC postseason tournament for the first time since 2008-09.
Southwestern (21-4, 14-3) appeared to be a hornet’s nest early on. The Moundbuilders were looking to avenge an overtime loss to Wesleyan earlier in the season and they were on a mission when they blasted ahead 30-13 with 8:31 remaining in the half. Wesleyan never panicked, slowly, but surely trimming the deficit to 34-27 with 3:30 to go. The margin went to six before a last-second three by Southwestern freshman LaJuan Hardy, putting the Builders ahead 39-30 at the break.
Wesleyan turned the tables early in the second half, connecting on 10 of its first 13 shots. Junior Rashun Allen contributed in the hot streak, scoring nine of his 10 points in the half. Sophomore Zach Rammelt connected on a triple to give KWU its first lead of the game, 53-51 with 13:14 remaining. The Coyotes pushed the advantage out to eight with 8:25 to play, but the Builders came back and knotted up the score at 71-all with 1:53 to go.
Neri made his biggest bucket of the night when the ball squirted to his legs in the lane. He picked up the rock, and drilled the shot with 1:25 left. Southwestern junior Kyrece Mills answered with a bucket, plus a foul, but missed the and-one free throw.
That set up the heroic shot by Gandy, giving him 15 points and making him the Salina Ortho Player of the Game. Southwestern threw a baseball pass that went on Rammelt with 0.4 seconds to go. A tip was recorded by junior Cameron Hunt, who finished with 28 points, but the shot crawled off the cylinder, handing Southwestern its only loss at home this season.
Neri was also the Salina Ortho Player of the Game, making 10-of-12 shots. Rammelt added nine.
Kansas Wesleyan welcomes Sterling on Saturday with pregame coverage starting at 4:45 on FM 104.9.
FINAL: @KWUMBB 75, No. 6 Southwestern 73. @T_a_FOOL w/game winning jumper with 1.9 seconds left. Gandy w/15 points, @RaulNeri42 w/career high 23 points, @RashunAllen23 w/10. KWU rallied from 17 points down in first half. KWU 13-10, 11-6 KCAC. #RollYotes pic.twitter.com/YhAZQxd0t2
— Pat Strathman (@PatStrathman) February 1, 2018
SOUTHWESTERN 70, KANSAS WESLEYAN 62
Kansas Wesleyan had an early lead with five minutes to go in the first quarter after a three by sophomore Kayla Vallin.
That was the last time the Coyotes were ahead as Southwestern went ahead 18-10 late in the opening quarter. Wesleyan cut the deficit to 20-18 in the second frame, but a 6-0 burst made it a 26-18 SW lead with 2:18 left in the first half.
KWU closed out the first half on an 8-2 spurt, setting up a tied game at 28-all 1:15 into the second half. Southwestern (7-18, 6-11) brought the margin out to 10 at the end of three, 54-44 after shooting lights out in the frame.
Kansas Wesleyan (13-12, 10-7) stormed back with an 8-0 explosion, highlighted by and and-one bucket by senior Taryn Frazier and a trey by sophomore Haleigh Bradford. The Coyotes nipped the deficit to 56-55 with 6:00 minutes left, but the Moundbuilders closed out the game on the defensive end.
SW senior Jordyn Miller had a monster double-double of 25 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore Jazmyne Laskey provided 14 points off the bench.
Wesleyan had three players in double figures, paced by Salina Ortho Player of the Game Virja Lewis. The freshman poured in 12 points. Senior Mariah Knox added 11 while Bradford settled for 10.