Written by AO Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:25
The Tabor College men's basketball team boosted its conference record a game above .500 with a 64-59 win at Kansas Wesleyan Thursday. The Bluejays jumped on an early lead that grew to 10-6 on a triple by Kyle Kroeker 4:56 into the first half, but the Coyotes rallied and the advantage flip-flopped 10 times before the intermission. KW went up by four, 24-20, on a 6-0 run. But Damon Dechant scored six of the next eight points—all on short-range 2-pointers—and Mike Rousell chipped in with another, as Tabor gained a 28-24 lead. The game swiveled again, with a 5-0 run giving the Coyotes a short-lived lead that Orson Thomas killed with a 2-pointer with 2:05 left in the half.
And KW would have ended with a 33-30 lead after a 4-0 run if not for a 2-pointer by Jordan Funk with 9 seconds left. Funk's basket was doubly important because the Coyotes went off like rockets to start the second half, opening a 41-34 lead via an 8-2 run led by Romero Hood. Hood scored 9 points in the first 2:36 after intermission.
But Hood's outburst didn't matter in the end, as Dechant and Thomas lifted Tabor into a 45-all tie at 12:50. Neither did Wesleyan's subsequent counterattack, led by Matthew Jarrett's 6-point outburst midway through the half. Jarrett and Melvin Underwood hit back-to-back 2-pointers that pushed the Coyote lead back to seven, 53-46, with 10:06 left.
But Funk sparked a Tabor rally with a layup-and-1 with 8:40 left. Zack Vanselow followed with a putback, Funk threw in another layup, and Aaron Whitelaw drilled a 3-pointer for a 56-55 Tabor lead with 5:30 to go. Trey Sims and Rodney Brown answered for KW, and Tabor trailed 59-58 at 4:12. Neither team scored until the Coyotes imploded in the final minute. After an Underwood turnover, Dechant put in a layup for a 60-59 Tabor lead with 22 seconds left. At the defensive end, Dechant made the play of the game, intercepting a post-entry pass.
Tabor missed the ensuing bonus shot at the free throw line with 2.9 seconds left, and the Coyotes rebounded—but were slapped immediately slapped with a technical foul for calling one more than the allowed number of timeouts. Kroeker knocked down both free throws. The Coyotes turned it over again, and Rousell clinched it with a layup as time expired.
Dechant's 14 led all scorers. Vanselow scored 11 and Whitelaw had 10 as the only other Bluejays in double-digits.
On the women's side, Tabor took a 13-10 lead 5:39 into the first half, but the Coyotes caught fire from the 3-point arc, scoring back-to-back triples by Kayleen Dittmer and LaCole Wilkenson 30 seconds apart to take over, 16-13.
Dittmer knocked down two more critical 3-point shots in the first half: one after Stephanie Silvas brought the Bluejays within 20-19, and another after Kirsten Watson and Gina Hullet combined to knot the score at 24-24 with 2:03 left.
Wilkenson's shots off of Dittmer's passes were the difference-makers in the second half. Leading 27-24 at the break, and having seen the lead grow to 33-26 on an early burst sparked by Dittmer, Andrea Robinson and Watson knocked down 3-pointers that kept Tabor in the game. Robinson hit at 17:44 and Watson struck at 15:49. But each time, Wilkenson answered off an assist from Dittmer: with a layup at 17:02 and with a trey at 14:35.
When Tabor's scoring dried up, Dittmer led the Coyotes push to pull away, scoring back-to-back 2-pointers that bracketed a free throw by Sarah Wyckoff, and made a layup-and-1 for a 52-37 KW lead with 9:00 to go.
By the time Watson jolted the Tabor offense back to life with a 3-pointer at 7:06, the Bluejays were in a 16-point hole. Jordan Crosson followed with a layup-and-1 at 5:23, and Silvas cut it to 11, 57-46, with 4:07 left.
But Wilkenson drained another 3-pointer just 18 seconds later, and put the game on ice with another that made it 67-47 with 56 seconds left in the game.
Watson led Tabor with 15 points, but Dittmer had 25 points and 5 assists, and Wilkenson scored 22. Jennie Vopat led KW to a 44-32 rebounding advantage with 18 boards—9 offensive—and blocked three shots.
Up next, Tabor plays at Friends, with games at 5/7 p.m. Saturday.