HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State’s women’s basketball grabbed the upper hand in a battle of nationally-ranked teams during the second day of the Comfort Suites New Year’s Classic, edging No. 23 Wabash Valley College, 71-67, at Tom Drake Coliseum on Saturday.
Sophomore guard Kaneisha Mixon set yet another career high with 18 points for the 24th-ranked Lady Lions, Morgan Smith chipped in with 15 points and Wallace State extended its winning streak to 10 games.
“I think we got better today (Saturday). Wabash Valley is a very good team, and they are ranked ahead of us for reason. We got better because I didn’t call a timeout when Wabash Valley turned the heat on and made its final run. Our women took a deep breath and got out of it,” said Wallace State women’s coach Ron Burdette. “We definitely got better confidence-wise beating a ranked team on our home floor. I’m thrilled to death where we are right now and to get out of this with a win.”
Wallace State (14-1) led 38-23 at the half and by 20 points with 8:25 remaining in the game. Wabash Valley limited the Lady Lions to only one field goal over the next six minutes, however, putting together an 18-2 run to trim Wallace State’s advantage to 69-65 with 2:37 remaining.
Wallace State’s defense buckled down over the final two minutes, yielding only one bucket to secure the victory.
For the Lady Lions, Mixon scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game. The Georgia native, who averaged only about four points per game last season, set a career-high 16 points on Dec. 3 vs. Cleveland State, but surpassed it by two on Saturday.
Smith, the third-leading scorer in the conference, nailed three 3-pointers in the second half for Wallace State, Jada Dale finished with nine points, BreAnna Thompson pitched in with eight and Haven Albright scored seven.
Saturday’s tilt featured four ties and four lead changes over the opening seven minutes. Dale broke a 9-9 tie for Wallace State with a steal and an easy bucket with 12:40 to go before the half. The Lady Lions then pulled away, utilizing a 13-5 run to seize a 24-14 cushion with 6:42 remaining before intermission.
After the 15-point advantage at the half, Wallace State pushed its lead to as many as 20 when Tyra Caudle’s layup made it 67-47 with 8:25 left.
The Lady Lions held on despite the late Wabash Valley rally.
Tyshee Towner led the Lady Warriors (10-5) with 13 points, while Nikki Meunstermann, Ellie Fruit, Aubrey Carter and Kaela Hodges scored nine points apiece.
Wallace State was playing its first game in the classic after LSU-Eunice was unable to travel to Hanceville on Friday because the team was struck with the flu.
The Lady Lions continue play in the Comfort Suites New Year’s Classic on Sunday, hosting Canada-based Lakeland College at 2 p.m.
Shelton State’s women won Saturday’s opener, 81-62, over Lakeland College.
Richard Bland College 77, Wallace State 70 (OT)
Richard Bland College, the fifth-ranked team in the NJCAA Division II ranks, outlasted Wallace State’s men in overtime, keeping the Statesmen a perfect 13-0.
Richard Bland outscored Wallace State 11-4 in the extra period to conclude the men’s portion of the Comfort Suites New Year’s Classic. The Statesmen finished the two-day event 2-0, while Wallace State and Wabash Valley went 1-1. Snead State went 0-2.
Wallace State (9-8) had an opportunity to win the game in regulation with Richard Smith at the line with 2.8 seconds remaining. He made one of two attempts, however, keeping the game tied at 66. A last-second heave by Richard Bland’s Avery Ugba sailed wide of the goal, sending the game into overtime.
Richard Bland opened overtime on a 6-0 run and kept Wallace State at bay the rest of the way.
Smith, who came in averaging seven points per game, scored a season-high 19 points for Wallace State off the bench. He went 11 of 17 from the free-throw line.
Jacob Barrett added 10 points off the bench for the Lions, Bennett Wilson scored nine and Jaylin Henderson and Kriston Beasley finished with seven points apiece.
Reginald Moses led Richard Bland with 18 points, Tavon Mealy scored 13 of his 17 points after the half and Ugba added 16.
Overtime seemed inevitable after a back-and-forth second half. There were 17 lead changes and 10 ties over the final 20 minutes of regulation. Wallace State maintained the biggest lead of the second half with eight minutes to go after Sidney Knox nailed a 3-pointer to make it 53-48.
Richard Bland battled back and grabbed a 64-62 advantage with 1:43 remaining after a Mealy putback. The Statesmen pushed their lead to 66-63 with 58.2 seconds remaining after a pair of free throws from Moses.
With 46.9 seconds remaining, Wilson cut Wallace State’s deficit to 66-65 with a layup, and Smith’s free throw with 2.8 seconds tied the game up at 66.
A minute into overtime, Mealy gave Richard Bland a 68-66 lead with a jumper in the lane, and the Statesmen extended their lead to 72-66 with 2:58 remaining.
Wallace State’s Barrett scored the first points for the Lions in overtime with a layup at the 2:37 mark, but the Lions managed only one more basket in the extra period.
Wabash Valley opened Saturday’s men’s action with an 88-74 victory over Snead State.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu