Written by Andrew Ottoson Tuesday, 12 December 2006 18:00The Tabor College men split a pair of road games last week, defeating the University of Saint Mary, 74-73, on Thursday, then dropping a 93-75 decision at Ottawa on Saturday.
"The primary thing that makes it difficult for us is lack of consistency," coach Don Brubacher said about the mixed results.
"The bottom line for our team is that we've struggled mightily to be consistent, both within each individual game and from game to game."
Despite grabbing big leads during both halves of the game with Saint Mary, the Spires looked to improve to 1-1 in the KCAC when Steven Morgan and Laquinton Ballenger scored four straight points to give USM a 2-point lead with time running out.
The Bluejays took a seven-point lead in the final five minutes of the second half, but USM answered at the three-minute mark.
"We played very poorly down the stretch and ended up with the ball with 13 seconds to play with the game tied," Brubacher said.
"We called a timeout to set a final play and we inbounded the ball successfully, but turned it over almost immediately.
"The turnover was out at half court, so they ran down and scored a layup that put them up by two points with six seconds to play."
Tyler Weinbrenner ran the ball down the court and younger brother Eric uncovered on the wing. The sophomore nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Tabor a victory by one point.
Tyler Weinbrenner led the team with 21 points. Greg Munroe added 16 and Mike Willis 11.
The Spires matched TC's top scorers stride for stride: Tremaine Dalton finished with 21, Morgan 16 and C.J. Zimmerlink 11.
Tabor's Mike Stoeker, who finished with nine points, put the Bluejays ahead 2-0, but the game tipped back toward the home team midway through the first half.
When Dalton hit a 2 to give USM a five-point lead, its largest of the night, Tyler Weinbrenner answered with a 3-pointer that sparked an 18-4 run that put TC ahead 32-23 with a little over five minutes left in the half.
USM rallied, but Tabor led by three at the break, 39-36.
The second half followed a similar pattern, and after Saint Mary's late 4-0 run transformed a 71-69 TC lead into a 73-71 deficit, Eric Weinbrenner played the hero and finished with eight points.
The winning 3 was part of an 8-for-15 team shooting performance from beyond the arc. Tabor went 30-for-56 (54 percent) from the floor.
"Early on in the year our perimeter play carried us both offensively and defensively, and a lot of that was true in the Saint Mary game," Brubacher said.
Ottawa-Tabor improved to 2-1 in conference play with Thursday's win, but dropped to 2-2 on Saturday with their loss at Ottawa.
The Braves' game-long aggressiveness paid off most noticeably on the boards, where Ottawa outrebounded the Bluejays 48-32 and scored a pile of easy points on putbacks and in transition.
As coach Don Brubacher searched for a combination of players to match Ottawa's intensity, a spurt of strong guard play from the Tabor bench turned momentum in the Bluejays' favor midway through the second half.
Dustin Burnett came off the bench and sank four second-half 3-point shots. His 5-for-6 shooting night was good for 14 points.
An earlier dunk by Greg Munroe may have been the most visually stunning play of the game as the high-flying forward slashed toward the basket along the baseline and threw down two points with both hands.
But with 9:30 to play, two big buckets brought Tabor within striking distance.
First, Kyle Kroeker executed a nifty give-and-go in transition with Munroe and an easy layup cut the Braves lead to 63-57.
Less than a minute later, Munroe was on the receiving end of another nice feed, this time from Mike Willis. Munroe spun past his man along the baseline again, and rose as if to dunk a second time.
But instead of slamming home an instant replay, Munroe applied a little finesse and seemed to hang in the air before laying the ball up off the glass.
The move threw off a defender's timing and resulted in a foul that sent Munroe to the line with a chance to cut the lead to five.
"(Munroe) has been a significant factor playing the four-spot in most of our games, but he has struggled with consistency," Brubacher said. "Our four- and five-spots carried us against Ottawa. But our perimeter players struggled badly."
Stoeker scored 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line. Munroe was 11 for 18 and scored a team-high 23.
As a team, Tabor was 1-10 from 3-point range in the first half, and trailed the Braves 44-31 after 20 minutes.
Despite the difficulties caused by OU's defense, Tabor shot 42 percent from the floor for the game on the strength of its play in the paint.
Having trailed by as much as 22, Tabor slashed the deficit to 65-60 with 8:21 to go. But the Bluejays faded down the stretch.
"We went on an absolutely disastrous stretch to finish the game," Brubacher said. "Our play just changes so drastically in the course of a game. It's just back and forth."
At the four-minute mark, the OU lead was back to 13 and the Tabor men went on to lose by 18.
Coming-The Bluejay men will close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a game on the road against Columbia (Mo.) College on Friday.
They will return to action Dec. 29 and 30 to host their own four-team tournament. Tabor will play Missouri Baptist at 8 p.m Friday and Benedictine at 3 p.m. Saturday.