Zach Vanselow drained two field goals out of the gate in the second half and gave the Bluejays a 41-36 lead.
Hett made it 44-38—Tabor’s biggest lead of the night—with a 3-pointer on his next shot. But Texas Wesleyan picked up steam after Vanselow went to the bench at 16:04 with his third personal foul.
Already an intensely physical contest, the game took a nasty turn when Kyle Kroeker was run over and injured under the Rams’ basket at 12:56. Kroeker did not return.
After that, the Rams took control of the glass and grabbed every rebound, including the carom after Hett’s 3-pointer struck iron with 10:25 to play. Tabor called timeout to get Vanselow back onto the floor.
After the timeout, 6-foot, 10-inch Slovenian forward Dane Dmitrovic drilled a 3-pointer and knotted the game at 52-all with 10:02 to go.
After Vanselow picked up his fourth at 7:17, Orson Thomas and Aaron Whitelaw each tallied game-tying shots.
Whitelaw’s 3-pointer at 6:37 came after an offensive rebound by Mike Stoecker and made it 57-57. After Texas Wesleyan scored, Thomas outjumped a crowd under the rim to notch a tip-drill putback that knotted it at 59. Tabor finished with 19 second-chance points.
But the Bluejays went without a field goal during the next 4:48, scoring only on foul shots by Stoecker, Whitelaw and Vanselow—until Whitelaw converted a steal into a layup with 1:12 left.
Whitelaw stole the ball again on the next possession, setting up a look at a 3-point shot for de Blonk with 46 seconds to go.
But the shot was aggressively contested by a Rams guard and rimmed out, leaving the Bluejays with a 70-66 deficit and forcing Tabor to foul the rest of the way.
De Blonk drilled an open jumper to make it 72-68 with after the first of two pairs of free throws by Texas Wesleyan’s Aaron Scott made it 72-66 with 40 seconds to go.
Scott iced the game at 74-68 with seven seconds left and finished with 17 points. Dmitrovic led all scorers with 19.
Vanselow led Tabor with 15. Hett added 14, Thomas 13 and Whitelaw 12. Thomas led the team with had five offensive and four defensive rebounds.
Columbia—A 38-28 halftime deficit proved too tough to overcome and the Columbia Cougars cruised to a 69-52 win over Tabor.
Trae Hall scored a 3-pointer 21 seconds into the game and Columbia never trailed.
Mike Rousell tied the game for the last time 16 seconds later, burying a 3-pointer on Tabor’s first shot.
The Cougars stayed hot, running to a 10-3 lead, and Tabor cooled off. The Bluejays scored their second field goal 5:04 into the game. Having put in a pair of foul shots at the 16:00 mark, Zach Vanselow scored a 2-pointer to make it 10-7 with 14:56 left in the half.
After that the Cougars strung together a 12-2 run behind perfect shooting from Jason Ellis, who went 3-for-3 from the field in the first half.
Aaron Whitelaw scored back-to-back 3-pointers at 7:35 and 6:52, and assisted on a 3-point shot made by Jared Hett at 5:29 as the Bluejays knocked the deficit down to 27-22.
Unfortunately for Tabor, three of Columbia’s final four field goals cost extra. Terrell Turner connected on a jumper from beyond the arc with 4:19 left in response to the Bluejay run.
Vanselow blocked Turner’s next shot, rebounded Columbia’s miss on the follow-up and was fouled. He nailed the second of the double-bonus free throws to make it 32-26 with 1:40 left.
But just when it seemed Tabor was getting back into the game, Christian Lewis converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and an immediate turnover set up Hall’s second three of the half with 40 seconds left.
Mike Stoecker finished off a nice pass from Jordan Funk with 20 seconds to go, but the double-digit disadvantage heading into intermission was too steep to climb in the second period.
The Bluejays cut into that lead with a 5-0 burst sparked by two Whitelaw foul shots and an offensive foul against Lewis.
At 13:18, Kyle Kroeker misfired a 3-pointer, caught his own rebound and kicked it out to Hett, who made it 46-38 with 13:12 to go.
Columbia then pushed their lead to 15 with 5:27 to go.
Tabor mounted another charge, cutting it to 58-50 with 4:05 to go on a pair of free throws by Kyle de Blonk.
But Lewis wrecked any thought of a comeback, converting a steal into points at 3:37, scoring a 2-pointer at 2:18, and taking a charge at 2:08—leading the Cougars on an 8-0 run to close out the game.
Lewis and Ellis each scored 11 points. Hall led all scorers with 15.
Whitelaw was the lone Bluejay in double-digits with 12 points.
Bacone—Tabor got a measure of revenge against the Bacone College Warriors Tuesday night in Hillsboro.
Coming off a 113-78 loss to the Warriors in Muskogee, Okla., eight days earlier, the Bluejays rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to win, 78-76.
Bacone took a 44-31 lead with 1:16 left in the first half, but Tabor cut it to 46-37 before intermission on buckets by Aaron Whitelaw and Mike Rousell.
Sparked by two steals, four free throws and two assists from Whitelaw, Tabor narrowed the margin to 48-47 with a 10-0 run to start the second half.
Bacone bounced back with a 12-0 run after fouls set Whitelaw and tower of power Zach Vanselow to the bench.
After Chivas Miller buried a 3-pointer to make it 60-47 in the visitors’ favor, Tabor’s defense effectively blunted Bacone’s perimeter scoring the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Jared Hett caught fire, scoring 11 points during a 16-5 run that spanned 4:22 and chopped the Warriors’ lead down to 65-63.
Then Whitelaw and Vanselow re-entered the game for Tabor along with Kyle Kroeker, and Bacone could not counter the Bluejays suddenly intense play in the paint.
With 7:59 to go, Vanselow rejected a layup, then threw in a 2-pointer at the other end. A moment later, he swatted another weak shot, feeding the loose ball to Whitelaw, who set up the game-tying score with a sharp pass to Mike Stoecker.
Tabor earned its third straight defensive stop, but the offense misfired and Vanselow picked up his fourth foul with 5:45 to go.
Bacone did not capitalize, and Whitelaw scored a short-range jumper to give Tabor a 69-67 lead with 5:19 left.
The game see-sawed for three minutes, with two lead changes and three ties down the stretch
Tabor fell behind 72-71 when Ronnie Battle buried a 3-pointer from the left corner with 3:38 to go.
Whitelaw answered at the other end, cutting behind a Hett screen to get to the hoop, where he was fouled hard. Whitelaw’s first foul shot caught the front of the rim, but his second knotted the game at 72-all with 3:20 to go.
Bacone’s next possession ended with a turnover under the basket, where Whitelaw scooped up the ball and lobbed a pin-point pass to Kroeker for an easy layup and a 74-72 lead.
Antonio Taylor tied it 20 seconds later, but Orson Thomas restored the advantage with a 5-footer with 1:49 to go.
Tabor stopped the Warriors on consecutive possessions, and Whitelaw gave Tabor a 4-point lead—its biggest of the night—when he torched Adrian Wyrick off the dribble for a layup with 21 seconds left.
Battle made it 78-76 with 13 seconds to go, and the Warriors sent freshman guard Kyle De Blonk to the line with 4.4 remaining, but the score was unchanged at the final buzzer.
Whitelaw led the Bluejays with 24 points, seven assists and five steals. Thomas scored 12. Hett came off the bench to score 13 and Vanselow added 10 points to 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Tabor outrebounded the Warriors, 35-27, building an 18-9 edge on the offensive glass to notch 17 second-chance points.
Coming—Tabor was to play an exhibition game against Northwest Missouri in Marysville, Mo., on Tuesday.
The Bluejays then compete at the Central Missouri State tournament at Warrensberg, Mo., on Friday and Saturday.
Tabor opens conference play against Bethany at 8 p.m. Nov. 29 in Hillsboro.