KCKCC GETS REVENGE ON PENN VALLEY IN LAST MINUTE THRILLER
When it comes down to down-to-the-wire finishes, nobody does it better than Kansas City Kansas and Penn Valley Community Colleges and Tuesday night's collision was no exception.
Trailing by 12 points with 15 minutes to go, KCKCC avenged an earlier 72-71 loss with a 75-69 win that wasn't decided until the final seven seconds.
The win was the third in a row for the Blue Devils (11-4), who will be shooting for a rare home win over Cowley College in a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday.
Penn Valley threatened to put the game out of reach early, leading 41-33 at halftime behind the long range shooting of 5-11 sophomore Julius McCoy, who had seven three-pointers and 23 points. Hitting their first five shots of the second half, the Scouts built their lead to 54-42.
Still trailing 64-59 with 7:24 left, the Blue Devils rallied with defense, holding the Scouts scoreless for nearly seven minutes. By the time Penn Valley scored again with just 35 seconds left, KCKCC had gone ahead 65-64 on field goals by Babajide Aina and CJ Vallejo and two Joe Lendway free throws and then got a huge three-pointer from the baseline from Vallejo for a 68-64 lead. "I saw there was a minute 30 seconds left and knew I had to do something," said the former Bishop Ward standout.
Penn Valley twice got within a point in the final 24 seconds. After Aina converted two free throws to make it 70-67, the Scouts had a chance to get even only to have Amaad Wainwright miss on one of three free throws with 14 seconds left. The Blue Devils took advantage of the miss by breaking the Penn Valley press culminating with Ray Ridley finding Lendway alone for a layup and a free throw for a 73-69 lead. "I was going to dunk it but decided to just lay it in," said Lendway. "I don't know why he fouled me."
Freshman Austin Hall had his biggest night with the Blue Devils with 22 points and nine rebounds while Vallejo added 19 points including five three-pointers and Lendway 15 points and six rebounds. Ridley led with 10 assists and seven points while Aina had another big floor game with 10 rebounds, eight points and six assists.
"Another gutsy win," said KCKCC Coach Kelley Newton. "That's two in a row coming back from being down double digits. We're finding out how to win."
Newton was particularly pleased with the Blue Devil free throwing, a perfect 9-of-9 in the second half when the game was being decided. "I was proud of that because we haven't been shooting free throws that well," said Newton. "We also got some great plays, CJ's three-pointer and Ray's pass to Joe Lendway were big. And we held McCoy to one three-pointer the last half so we did a better job on him."