Tylieea Wallace shoots over a Tabor defender. Photo courtesy of kwucoyotes.com
KWU sports information
The dramatic reprise of Tylieea Wallace (SO/Overland Park, Kan.) was the final act in the making of The Miracle In Mabee.
Wallace, Kansas Wesleyan’s talented post player, hit a 3-pointer from left baseline with two seconds left that capped the Coyotes’ desperate comeback in the final minute to lead them to an improbable 62-61 victory in the Kansas Conference on Tabor Wednesday inside Mabee Arena.
The win gave the Coyotes their only possession of 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 with Tabor.
KWU (18-9 overall) incredibly overcame a 60-51 deficit in the final 58.3 seconds as Wallace and Jill Stephens (SO/Colby, Kan.) each scored five points.
Stephens’ triple with 51.8 seconds left made it 60-54. After a turnover by Tabor he scored again with 34.8 seconds remaining to cut the deficit 60-56.
Tabor’s Aleyvia Owens hit one of two free throws with 31.1 seconds left before Wallace scored to put KWU up 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-for-13 at the foul line before missing their last three attempts.
Tabor committed two fouls attempting to slow the Coyotes’ progress down the field. As time wore on, point guard LaMyah Ricks (JR/Shawnee Mission, Kan.) drove to the field goal and was cut eight feet from the basket on the left side. He turned and passed the ball to Wallace who caught the pass, stepped back beyond the 3-point arc and buried his shot with 2 seconds left.
“(Ricks) was fumbling a bit (with the ball), so I said ‘OK, I’m here, just let me step back,'” Wallace said. “I took (the ball), took another step and let it go. I was trying to win all the way.”
Wallace credited Ricks, who had 16 points and three steals, for pushing the Coyotes.
“Just the positive energy coming from LaMyah,” she said. “She was the leader at the time and she just said ‘we’re not losing’ and everyone believed it and we all refused to lose.”
Coach Ryan Showman echoed Wallace’s sentiments.
“What you saw was a team that absolutely refuses to lose,” he said. “When everything is against us, there’s no one on that bench who has any doubts.”
Showman credited players on court.
“It was just that basketball players were basketball players, just girls making games,” she said. “This is stuff you can’t coach. I can’t coach this; I can’t take any credit for it. Those were the five women on track who 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 on a 14-0 run to take a 36-30 lead at halftime. KWU made it to 44-43 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but the Bluejays rebooted with an 8-0 surge that continued into the fourth quarter and gave them a 51-43 lead.
Their lead grew to 11 (55-44) with six minutes left before KWU began closing the gap. The Coyotes held Tabor off the pitch in the final 3 1/2 minutes.
“This was what we had to get after (losing to Sterling) last Wednesday,” Showman said. “If we didn’t get this one, there was no chance for the third one. We got this one and now we can rest, heal and prepare for Senior Night on Saturday.”
“This was the biggest,” Wallace said. “We have to go out on Saturday with the same intensity and keep staying on the boards and keep putting in a good effort. We have to keep the momentum going.”
KWU shot 42 percent (26-for-62), was 5-for-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% (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.