A strong defensive performance, especially on the glass, earned the Tabor women’s basketball team a decisive 67-52 victory over Sterling College in tonight’s home conference opener. But the luck didn’t hold for the men, who couldn’t keep up with the Warriors and gave the game away at the line with eight fewer free throws for a 71-62 loss. The men slip to 1-9 overall, while the women improve to 4-5 on the season with a win in their first conference match-up.
The Bluejays matched the Warriors’ intensity for the first few minutes of play, but couldn’t settle into a scoring rhythm and let Sterling took the lead, 6-5, early in the game. The Warriors’ nailed two three-pointers and a couple free throws for an eight-point run that established a double-digit lead. Tabor couldn’t get shots to fall, but ground away on defense, trailing 36-25 at the break. The Bluejays shot just 32 percent from the field in the first half and made two of 14 attempts from beyond the arc.
Tabor outscored Sterling in the first half by two points, 37-35, but never quite gained enough momentum as the Bluejays danced around the double-digit mark for most of the second period. They had a bit better luck shooting, with a 36 percent average from both the field and the perimeter, but not enough to tip the scales in their favor.
With the guards struggling to find the basket, Tabor’s bigs led the way with 12 points for Nick Sauer and 11 for Ryan Chippeaux to keep the latter’s double-digit scoring streak alive. The Bluejays also got contributions from Michael Janzen and Reggie Butler, with eight points a piece. Chippeaux and Robbie Samuel led Tabor on the boards with eight rebounds each, but Sterling still won the glass, 48-41. Sterling averaged .99 points a possession, compared to Tabor’s .87 points.
Tabor jumped to an early lead and didn’t let up, standing against a second-half rally from a physical Sterling team to gain its first conference win.
Senior Katlyn Mary had a great night for the Bluejays, holding one of the Warriors’ top scorers, Kayla Eilert, to just five points and hitting double digits in scoring with 14 points. She also pulled down eight rebounds, second only to Janelle Rust’s nine.
The Bluejays took over in the first minutes and held on to a 28-16 lead at the half, despite making just one of 12 three-point attempts. Tabor’s perimeter shooting didn’t improve much in the second half, making three of 10 tries, but its defense held strong and the Bluejays fended off Sterling to outscore the Warriors, 39-36, in a hot final period for the win.
In addition to Mary, Becky Bryan came off the bench and made double digits with 11 points. Loren Oliver and Hannah Paust also chipped in eight points a piece, with Rust adding seven points to her nine boards.
Coming – The Bluejays are scheduled to travel to McPherson College Saturday for their second KCAC match-up, with tip-off for the women’s game slated for 5 p.m. and the men’s game following at 7 p.m.