|Kirsten Watson fights off Jade Pihl and wades through a sea of arms on her way to the basket late in Saturday’s 79-77 loss at Bethany. Watson scored 6 points. Andrew Ottoson Free Press|
Bethany—The music of competition was all but drowned out by an incessant droning of whistles, as the teams combined for 61 personal fouls and 70 free throws.
“I didn’t like the way the game was officiated,” coach Shawn Winter said. “It didn’t favor one team or the other, but it was called like a high school game. But it came down to execution, and I’m not happy with how we executed at the end of the game.”
The Bluejays grabbed 12-2 and 17-7 leads out of the gate, and took a 23-9 advantage on a pair of foul shots by Kirsten Watson.
Jade Pihl led the Swedes back, drilling among four first-half 3-pointers making it 23-13 and 23-18.
In between, three Bluejays were called for fouls: Watson got her second at 9:52, Stephanie Silvas got her first 24 seconds later, and Chelsea Malone picked up her third 10 seconds after that.
Roni Whitman prospered at the foul line, and her free throws made it 25-20, then 28-24. Cathy Wade made it 39-36 with 36 seconds left in the period. Silvas was fouled with 0.4 seconds left in the frame, and gave Tabor a 44-38 lead entering halftime.
Rapid-fire foul calls continued through a start-and-stop second half.
Katie Fast was whistled for her second foul at 17:56, with Bethany’s Rachelle Gaylord getting rung up for her second 12 seconds later.
Jordan Crosson was called for her first at 17:25. Bethany’s Hope Stieben was whistled at 16:53, and Wade picked up her third four seconds later.
Both teams were shooting bonus free throws with 11:25 still to be played, and both were in double-bonus territory by 8:13. A free throw by Joanna Pyle gave Tabor a 63-53 lead at 8:55.
But the stretch run—choppy as it was—belonged to Bethany.
The Swedes outscored Tabor 26-14, tying the game at 67 on a 3-pointer by Wade.
After Watson broke the tie at the line, Stacie Herman put Tabor in the driver’s seat with a traditional 3-point play at Gaylord’s expense.
Pyle went to the line on Tabor’s next trip, and the Bluejays had a 72-67 lead on a 5-0 run. Wade hit a trey from right wing, and Whitman knotted it at 72 by way of foul shots.
Gaylord put the Swedes in the lead with a free throw with 1:28 to go, and made it 75-72 with two more foul shots at 1:11.
At the other end, Crosson scored off an offensive rebound, but Gaylord came back with a 2-point putback that made it a four point game with 35 seconds to go.
Watson drained a 3-pointer, making it 78-77 with 35 ticks remaining. But the Bluejays came up one possession short as time ran out. Herman and Wade each scored 23 points to lead their respective teams. Fast scored 13, and Jenny Gaskell tallied 9 points.
Kansas Wesleyan—Tabor never trailed, and held on to the early lead despite being outscored 7-2 during the final 3:24 of the game.
Stacie Herman put the Bluejays on top 3-0 with a long bomb 27 seconds after the opening tip. Kirsten Watson made it 6-2 on Tabor’s next possession, and Herman made it 8-2 on the next.
The Bluejays got 9 points a piece from Watson and Herman on their way to a 32-25 lead at intermission.
But the Coyotes limited both veteran guards during the second half—holding Watson without a shot attempt—to enable a late rally.
An 8-2 run opened a 40-27 lead 4:51 into the second, but the Coyotes scored 12 consecutive points, making it 40-39 with 10:30 to play. Emily Luckeroth led the charge for Kansas Wesleyan, scoring consecutive 3-pointers at 13:24 and 11:09.
Chelsea Malone broke the visitors’ run with a layup assisted by Tasia Johnson at 10:19. Then Herman banked in a runner, and followed up with an assist on a layup by Jordan Crosson.
At 6:11, Stephanie Silvas made it a five-point game with a pull-up jumper one step inside the foul line.
Then Johnson read the ensuing inbounds pass and made freshman guard LaCole Wilkenson force a pass toward Kayleen Dittmer.
Dittmer gathered the pass without incident but ran over Herman, who had perfectly positioned herself to take the charge.
But the Bluejays did not capitalize on the extra possession, and the offense struggled to score the rest of the way.
Herman hit two foul shots with 4:12 remaining, and Johnson converted a 3-point play at 3:52 that put Tabor firmly in the lead, 53-47.
Then the wheels nearly fell off. After a bucket by Jennie Vopat, Luckeroth hit another 3-pointer. Leading 53-52, Brittany Roth sank a pair of foul shots to make it a 3-point game.
After Charessa Gray cut it to one with an offensive rebound and layup at the 16 second mark, the Coyotes misfired on three chances to take the lead.
Luckeroth led all scorers with 18 points. Herman led Tabor with 13, followed by Watson (9) and Joanna Pyle (9).
Coming—Tabor (6-4) plays McPherson (5-5) Thursday night in Hillsboro. The Bluejays play Saint Mary (3-7) Saturday evening in Leavenworth.