The trio combined for the game’s final nine points as KWU rallied for a 62-57 Kansas Conference victory over Saturday afternoon inside Mabee Arena. The Coyotes improved to 8-8 and are 6-4 in the conference; Avila fell to 5-11 and 4-6.
Lee struck first completing a three-point play with 2:53 left that narrowed the deficit to 56-55. After two empty KWU possessions Stephens made four consecutive free throws – the first two after a technical foul was called on an Avila player with 1:26 remaining that gave the Coyotes a 58-57 lead. The last two came with 50.6 seconds left and made it 60-57.
After Avila missed a shot Ricks, KWU’s senior point guard, drove the lane with the shot clock about to expire and scored on a well-guarded layup with 4.8 seconds remaining for the final points.
“It’s always going to be a team win but I want the ball in (Ricks and Stephens) hand,” Showman said. “They’ve done it time and time again and today is no different.”
“I just knew we needed to get a bucket any way possible,” Ricks said. “I hadn’t been having a great game but I just kind of kept believing in myself. My teammates pushed me and that’s the reason why that ball went in.”
Stephens said her free throws were a matter of focusing on the moment. She also made three free throws with 8:38 left in the game after being fouled on a 3-point shot attempt.
“Growing up I went to the gym with my parents a lot and practiced free throws. Free throws have always been a strong suit of mine,” she said. “I always think one in a row and not overlooking each basket. Just take it one step at a time.”
Stephens finished with 12 points and five rebounds while Ricks had nine points and seven rebounds. Lee had six points.
“We are having a different conversation after the game in the locker room if those two didn’t have their performances in the first half,” Showman said. “They made big big shots, big big plays.
“We’ve been waiting for AD to do that. I know she’s been frustrated but she stuck with it. And she let that first one fly and it rattled in and then boom, boom, boom. It’s just a confidence builder.”
The second half was a different story though. KWU was as icy as the weather outside going 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) from the field the final 20 minutes, making just one field goal in the third quarter. The Coyotes led 44-36 with 6:14 left in quarter but Avila closed on a 14-2 surge and led 50-46 entering the final eight minutes.
Showman credited Avila for slowing the Coyotes’ offense.
“I thought they put us in some positions defensively where we struggled a little bit and they hit some shots,” he said. “We went with some different lineups and so credit them. It wasn’t perfect but at the end of the day we made just enough plays and found a way to win.”
“We stuck together, no one turned on each other,” Stephens said. “We had good team energy, the bench energy was great, our team chemistry was good. We played together and we shared the ball.”
“I think we played really well together, everybody was scoring,” Ricks said. “We didn’t have one person score all of our buckets. Our bench scored a lot of points for us and that really helped.”
Marlie Wright led Avila with 13 points while Hannah Smith had 12. The Eagles shot 43 percent for the game (24 of 56).
Wesleyan travels to Sterling on Wednesday for a game against the Warriors starting at 6 p.m. inside the Gleason Center. Sterling lost to Friends 79-75 Saturday in Wichita and is 7-9, 4-6 in the conference.