Tylieea Wallace (SO/Overland Park, Kan.)’s dramatic shot was the final act in the making of The Miracle In Mabee.
Wallace, Kansas Wesleyan’s talented post player, sank a 3-pointer from the left baseline with two seconds left that capped the Coyotes’ desperate comeback in the final minute and lifted them to an improbable 62-61 Kansas Conference victory over Tabor on Wednesday inside Mabee Arena.
The victory gave the Coyotes sole possession of the third place in the KCAC at 16-5 with one game remaining in the regular season – Saturday against York in Mabee. They entered Wednesday’s game tied for third with Tabor.
KWU (18-9 overall) incredibly overcame a 60-51 deficit the final 58.3 seconds as Wallace and Jill Stephens (SO/Colby, Kan.) scored five points apiece.
Stephens’ 3-pointer with 51.8 seconds left made it 60-54. Following a Tabor turnover she scored again with 34.8 seconds remaining to reduce the deficit 60-56.
Tabor’s Aleyvia Owens made one of two free throws with 31.1 seconds left before Wallace scored to get KWU within 61-59 with 14.5 seconds left.
The door to victory opened when Ja’Neysha Hendricks missed two free throws with 13.8 seconds left – the Bluejays were 12 of 13 at the foul line before missing their last three attempts.
Tabor fouled twice in attempt to slow the Coyotes’ progress up court. With time winding down point guard LaMyah Ricks (JR/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) drove to basket was cutoff eight feet from the basket on the left side. She turned and passed the ball to Wallace who caught pass, stepped back beyond the 3-point arc and buried her shot with 2 seconds left.
“(Ricks) was fumbling (the ball) a little bit so I said ‘OK, I’m right here, let me just step back,'” Wallace said. “I got (the ball), took another step and just let it go. I was going for the win all the way.”
Wallace credited Ricks, who had 16 points and three steals, for pushing the Coyotes through.
“Just the positive energy coming from LaMyah,” she said. “She was the leader at the moment and just said ‘we’re not losing’ and everyone just believed in that and we all refused to lose.”
Coach Ryan Showman echoed Wallace’s sentiments.
“What you saw there was a team that just absolutely refuses to lose,” he said. “When everything’s against us there’s not one person on that bench that has any doubt.”
Showman credited the players on the court.
“That was just basketball players being basketball players, just girls making plays,” he said. “That’s stuff that you can’t coach. l can’t coach that; I can’t take any credit for that. That was the five ladies on the floor that just absolutely refused to lose.”
Wallace finished with a game-best 17 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. Caila Hill (SR/Rossville, Kan.) added 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Coyotes led 30-22 with six minutes left in the second quarter but Tabor took control with a 14-0 run and led 36-30 at halftime. KWU got within 44-43 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter but the Bluejays took off again with an 8-0 surge that continued into the fourth quarter and gave them 51-43 lead.
Their advantage grew to as many as 11 (55-44) with six minutes left before KWU began to close the gap. The Coyotes held Tabor without a field the final 3½ minutes.
“This was the one we had to get after (losing to Sterling) last Wednesday,” Showman said. “If we didn’t get this one there was no chance at third. We got this one and now we can rest up heal up and get ready for Senior Night on Saturday.”
“This was the big one,” Wallace said. “Saturday we’ve got to come out with the same intensity and continue to stay on the boards and continue to give a good effort. We’ve got to keep the momentum going.”
KWU shot 42 percent (26 of 62), was 5 of 10 beyond the 3-point arc, outscored Tabor 38-24 in the paint and had just 10 turnovers. Tabor (17-9, 15-6 KCAC) shot 47 percent (22 of 47), just 5 of 18 from deep and had 15 turnovers. Zoe Rust led the Bluejays with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
York (9-16, 7-14 KCAC) lost to Friends 75-66 in overtime Wednesday in Wichita. The Panthers have lost eight of their last 10 games.