Written by Andrew Ottoson Tuesday, 12 December 2006 18:00The Tabor College women took a big step toward another KCAC title with a 73-71 victory over conference rival Ottawa.
Coupled with Tabor's 77-41 win at the University of Saint Mary on Thursday, the 10th-ranked Bluejays, at 4-0 in KCAC play, are a full game in front of 3-1 Sterling and 3-1 Ottawa and 11⁄2 games in front of 2-1 Southwestern.
Against Ottawa on Saturday, Tabor started slowly in the first half. Both teams looked every bit as good as the unblemished 3-0 conference records they came in with.
"They have size, they have quickness, they have shooters, they play hard-they're experienced," coach Rusty Allen said. "They start five seniors, so we were up against a tough opponent. They took us by storm for the first five minutes."
Tabor guards noticeably struggled with Ottawa's press in the early going; the Jays never led in the first half. Tabor managed strong spurts throughout the first half, and short jump shots by Nicole Ellis twice brought the Bluejays within two. Despite adjusting to the press, the Bluejays trailed 37-29 at the break.
"We made a pretty significant adjustment at halftime," Allen said. "We decided to go almost exclusively with our motion offense instead of our set plays, and that had a positive effect on our team in the second half."
In the second half, Tabor repeatedly cut into the Braves lead, but could move no closer than four. A late eruption by Chelsea Malone tied the game with 27 seconds left.
"Chelsea played a tremendous second half," Allen said. "She might have been a bit nervous in the first half, but in the second half she settled down."
Malone scored seven points-including a 3-pointer and 4-for-4 shooting from the free-throw line-in the final 1:01 of the second half.
OU had the ball with the shot clocks turned off and the game tied at 71-71. The Braves called a timeout to run a set play with a chance at a potentially game-winning score.
With 13 seconds left Tina Wilson ran into Kirsten Watson, and Wilson was called for an offensive foul. The play gave Tabor a chance to win the game on the final shot.
Andrea Robinson weaved her way the length of the floor and scored a runner softly off the glass for a 73-71 lead with 5.6 seconds remaining.
Ottawa called another timeout and drew up a play to give sophomore Stef Randa an open look from 3-point range. But Randa's long, arcing shot bounced harmlessly off of the side of the backboard while Tabor celebrated a winning streak that has grown to 10 games.
"I don't think we were in need of a confidence boost-we had moved up to 10th in the NAIA polls," Allen said. "But it is a confidence boost, so I think it's going to help us continue to build."
Five Bluejays finished in double figures: Nicole Ellis (11), Donya Anderson (12), Andrea Robinson (13), Emily Vogts (15) and Malone (18).
Vogts added 10 rebounds and blocked five shots, giving her another double-double.
Between the two games this week, Vogts totaled 33 points, 21 rebounds, four assists, seven blocks, three steals and was named KCAC "player of the week."
Saint Mary-Against the Spires on Thursday, Tabor scored 41 points in the first half while allowing USM only 41 points for the whole game.
"We got off to a slow start in the first two minutes, and we decided to call a timeout," coach Rusty Allen said. "We really challenged our players. We became really effective after that time out."
Ashley Fraser hit a free throw to give USM a five-point lead, but Tabor went on a 6-2 run that mushroomed into a 33-10 outburst that put the Bluejays up by 22 going into halftime.
The Spires shot 14-of-47 from the floor, including 0-for-12 from behind the 3-point line.
For Tabor, Nicole Ellis (10), Andrea Robinson (13), Chelsea Malone (15) and Emily Vogts (18) finished in double-figures. Vogts also grabbed 11 rebounds in a double-double effort.
"A lot of people scored, a lot of people got involved and we executed our offense," Allen said. "In the end, I felt like we played a pretty good game even though we got off to the slow start."
Coming-With the win over Ottawa, Tabor completed its pre-Christmas schedule. The Bluejays will return to action Dec. 29 and 30 as they and the men play host to the Tabor Holiday Classic.
The women will play the University of Arts & Sciences at 3 p.m. Friday and Concordia University at 5 p.m. Saturday.