Junior forward Derek Bailey drained a 22-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Little Giants to a 62-60 win at Kenyon. The victory improves Wabash to 10-0 on the season and 3-0 in North Coast Athletic Conference play.
Bailey's only three-point shot of the game could not have been bigger. Wabash held a two-point lead with seven seconds left, but Kenyon nailed a three-pointer for what appeared to be the winning shot.
With 2.5 seconds to play, the Little Giants got the ball to half court and called time out. Junior A.J. Sutherlin threw the inbound pass to Bailey with one tick left, and the Bloomington native swished the shot to propel Wabash to its best start in nearly 100 years.
Bailey had to overcome a first half injury to provide the heroics for Wabash. Bailey was knocked to the floor on the final play of the first half trying to draw a foul as the Lords raced downcourt to score a layup before the horn sounded. Bailey lay on the court for the first few minutes of halftime before eventually getting to his feet to join his team mates in the locker room.
The Little Giants won despite a slow start, failing to score from the field for the first 7:30 of the contest. Wabash's defense kept the team in game. Wabash shot poorly in the game — hitting just 21-of-54 shots, but stayed close by committing just 11 turnovers. The Little Giants also held Kenyon's leading scorer, Kodey Haddox, to five points. He entered the game averaging more than 18 points a contest.
Kenyon is the first team this year to score 60 points against the Little Giants.
Watch Bailey's game-winning three-point shot.
Wabash trailed by as many as six points, but rallied to trail 30-27 at the break. Aaron Zinnerman started the second half with two baskets and an assist on a Nick Curosh layup that erased the Kenyon lead and put the Little Giants up by one.
Bailey's free throw with 2:35 put Wabash up five, but Evan McCulley — who dominated inside play for the Lords—- connected on two free throws. Another free throw by Marcus Healey cut the score to 59-57 in favor of Wabash with one minute left to play. The Little Giants missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt in the closing seconds, setting up the final mad scramble.
After series of timeouts by both teams with seven seconds left, Healey nailed a trey from the top of the key to put Kenyon up by one. Bailey answered with the game-winning shot from the same spot at the opposite end of the floor to give Wabash the win.
Wes Smith led the Little Giants with 17 points, while Bailey had eight points and six rebounds. Ben Burkett and Zinnerman each had seven points in the balanced attack, while Sutherlin drilled two three-pointers to finish with six. Brian Shelbourne had a packed stat line: four points, six rebounds, four steals, three assists, and a blocked shot in 25 minutes.
McCulley and Healey each finished with 16 points to lead Kenyon (5-5, 1-2 NCAC) in scoring.
Wabash returns to action on Sunday, December 19 with a 1 p.m. tipoff at Chadwick Court against Allegheny College.