The Tabor College men trailed only once in their 80-70 victory over Southwestern Saturday, thanks to a Bluejay offense that found its rhythm early, shooting 53 percent from the field.
“I felt like we showed up on the offensive end all night,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “It wasn’t real hard finding a rotation tonight.”
Senior Ryan Chippeaux contributed a stellar performance, scoring a game-high 20 points.
Tabor opened the game with a 5-0 run courtesy of a Chippeaux basket followed by a three-point basket by Nick Sauer.
The Bluejays maintained their lead until an 8-0 Southwestern surge left Tabor trailing 10-9 at the 13:40 mark.
But the Bluejays regained the lead and would not trail the rest of the night. Contributing to a 39-35 lead at the break, the Bluejays sank four of nine three-point shots in the first half.
Chance LeBlanc opened the second half with a basket behind the arc, and Chippeaux nailed two consecutive shots to push a three-point lead to a 48-41 margin at 17:04.
“I thought (Chippeaux) came out and when we were struggling, he got a basket, and that was a big deal for us,” Ratzlaff said. “He needs to be that guy. Almost every single night, we need him to be that guy.”
The Bluejays did not allow the Moundbuilders closer than three points the rest of the game, and pushed their advantage to a game-high 14 after two free throws by Chippeaux with 2:42 left in the game.
Chippeaux punctuated his performance with a dunk off a Robbie Samuel assist with 40 seconds remaining, then contributed two free throws to seal the 10-point victory.
Joining Chippeaux in double-digit scoring were Samuel with 12 and LeBlanc with 11.
“Robbie helped us on the glass,” Ratzlaff said. “He’s always been a good rebounder for us, so I thought he played really solid tonight.”
Defensively, Tabor limited Southwestern’s three-point shooters to 3-for-15 success, but did give away 14 second-chance points.
“We did a good job defensively on the first shot,” Ratzlaff said. “What we didn’t do a very good job of is one and done. They got way too many second chances. It’s something we’ll just need to work on.”
With the win, Tabor improved to 5-1 in the KCAC and 6-9 overall. Southwestern drops to 3-3 and 12-5.
Ottawa—After a shaky first half, Tabor found rhythm off the rotation for a come-from-behind 75-68 victory at home over Ottawa Thursday.
The game was the Bluejays’ first post-Christmas break challenge after an Avila University contest Dec. 31 was canceled.
Returning to the floor was senior guard Lawson Kingsley, who came off the bench to score a game-high 14 points in his first game since suffering an ankle fracture against Hastings College Nov. 10.
After falling behind by four to start the game, Cameron Rust hit a free throw that ignited a 6-0 Tabor run. An Ottawa turnover led to a basket by Chance LeBlanc to tie the game, and Ryan Chippeaux cashed in two at 17:43 to give Tabor a 6-4 lead.
It would be the last Tabor lead until just under six and a half minutes remained in the game.
Unable to find offensive rhythm, Tabor posted 12-for-34 shooting (35 percent) in the first half to trail 33-42 at the break. More than half Tabor’s points came from behind the arc, with five Bluejays contributing three-point baskets.
“We played horrible in the first half,” Ratzlaff said. “I just told the guys that, first of all, we’ve got to play as a team offensively. I thought we were taking really quick shots so (the Braves) weren’t having to play defense very long.”
The teams traded scores to open the second half, but good defensive pressure by the Bluejays forced Ottawa turnovers and ignited a 9-0 surge that brought Tabor within three, 51-54, at 11:21 thanks to three-point baskets by Nemit and Kingsley.
With momentum in Tabor’s favor, the Bluejays began to find rhythm, taking advantage of their depth.
“We were really having a hard time getting any type of mix, so the rotations were fairly normal, but decent basketball was hard to find until that group hit it about that 12-minute mark in the second half,” Ratzlaff said. “I want our depth to be able to do that, but we almost went a whole game without finding anything. That’s the scary thing about playing a bunch of guys.”
A layup by Marc Hopkinson off the steal at 7:37 brought Tabor to within one at 61-60. Reggie Butler added two with 7:01 remaining, and Robbie Samuel followed with a basket for a 64-63 Tabor lead at 6:22.
The Bluejays never trailed again. In the end, defense made the difference.
“They got really aggressive on defense, which is nice, and from there, it kind of just carried on over to the rest of our team,” Ratzlaff said of his team. “We just kind of were on attack mode the last 10 minutes. It’s all (about) being focused and being aggressive.”
LeBlanc added 12 points for Tabor, while Chippeaux contributed eight points and 11 rebounds.
With the win, Tabor improved to 5-9 overall and 4-1 in the KCAC. Ottawa dropped to 5-7 overall, 3-2 in the conference.