The Bluejays recorded two big wins over the University of Saint Mary Saturday on senior night. The women defeated Saint Mary 61-55 and improved to 14-2 in the KCAC, 18-8 overall to remain locked with Friends for first in the conference, and the men defeated the KCAC-leading Spires, 77-75, and improved to 12-4, 13-12.
WOMEN – Improved execution on offense helped propel Tabor to a six-point win Saturday. Katlyn Mary gave the Bluejays a boost with 10 points in the first 3:22 for a 10-3 Tabor lead. The Bluejays led the duration of the first half. Nikki Lewis drained a three-point basket at 13:02, but the Spires closed the gap to draw within 18-17 at the 9:17 mark. An 8-0 Bluejay surge was capped by three-point baskets by Molly Moran and Mary for a 26-17 Tabor margin at 6:29, and Lewis gave Tabor a double-digit lead with a basket two minutes later. Three straight Tabor misses, however, allowed the Spires to narrow the gap to 28-27 with 1:20 left before halftime, and the Bluejays clung to a narrow 30-27 lead at the break.
The Spires tied the game at 32 one minute into the second half and took their only lead of the night, 34-32, after a Tabor turnover. Lewis scored Tabor’s next five points to regain a 37-34 advantage, and the Bluejays held the lead the duration of the game.
What Tabor may have lacked on the boards (the Bluejays grabbed 35 rebounds compared to 47 for Saint Mary), they made up in steals, and a Tabor steal led to a three-point basket by Mallory Zuercher at the 12:21 mark. Lewis followed with a basket behind the arc to regain a double-digit, 53-43, lead. Bluejay turnovers and missed shots contributed to an 8-0 surge by the Spires, who narrowed the Tabor lead to two, 53-51, with 5:46 left to play. But Saint Mary scored only two more baskets the duration of the game. Tabor, meanwhile, added eight points to boost the Bluejays to the six-point victory.
Lewis led the Bluejay attack with 16 points. Mary added 13, while Paust had 10.
MEN – Tabor held on down the stretch in another down-to-the-wire finish to defeat the KCAC-leading Spires of Saint Mary, 77-75. Once again, the Bluejays struggled out of the gate, with the Spires bursting to a 6-0 lead before Nick Sauer narrowed the gap to 6-3 with a basket behind the arc at 17:25. But the Bluejays showed improved focus on offense. Ryan Chippeaux cashed in the Bluejays’ next six points on his way to a game-high 18 points, and the Bluejays surged 9-0 to leave the Spires trailing 16-10 at 11:51. Reggie Butler, Michael Janzen and Sauer put on a show behind the arc with three straight three-point baskets for a double-digit, 25-12 lead at the 9:16 mark. But the Spires outscored Tabor 15-5 in the next six minutes to narrow the gap to three, 30-27, with 3:03 left in the half. The Bluejays ended the half with a 10-0 run for a 13-point, 40-27, lead at intermission.
Tabor exploded to their largest lead of the night, 57-37, in the first seven minutes of the second half, but back-to-back three-point baskets by Saint Mary cooled Tabor’s momentum. Saint Mary slowly chipped away at Tabor’s lead, and a second-chance basket followed by a free-throw narrowed the Bluejays’ lead to nine, 63-54, at 7:52, and the Spires surged to tie the game at 68 with a three-point basket with 5:43 left to play. With momentum in Saint Mary’s favor, Chippeaux stepped up and scored five straight points for Tabor and Brent Jackson followed with a basket at 2:47 that swung the momentum to Tabor and gave the Bluejays a 75-68 advantage. But the Spires didn’t roll over, and used a 7-0 surge to tie the game at 75 with 32 seconds left in the game. With the crowd on its feet, Tabor milked the clock, and Robbie Samuel made a basket with three seconds remaining for a 77-75 Tabor lead. The Spire shot at the buzzer missed its mark, giving Tabor its fifth straight win.
Chippeaux led the Tabor attack with a game-high 18 points, and Butler and Sauer each added 12 to pace the Bluejays.
With the loss, Saint Mary dropped to 14-2, 20-7, but still tops the KCAC. Tabor is locked in a three-way tie for second place with Sterling and Friends, each with 12-4 records in the conference.