A tough zone defense paired with low three-point accuracy proved too much for the Tabor College women Saturday night, as the Bluejays dropped their first conference game at Friends University, 58-50.
“We struggled shooting from outside, and that allowed (Friends) to stay in their zone,” coach Shawn Reed said. “We also struggled rebounding and defending the post.”
Tabor made just four of 22 shots from behind the arc (18 percent) and finished with 32 percent shooting from the field (17-53).
The Bluejays fell behind by five at the start, but Janelle Rust scored the Bluejays’ first seven points to tie the game at the 15:27 mark. She finished with 20.
The game saw 12 lead changes and nine ties. After Jazmyne Smith tied the game at 13 at the 9:52 mark, Tabor took its first lead, 17-16, less than two minutes later on free throws by Nikki Lewis. The half concluded with a back-and-forth battle, with Tabor holding a slim 31-28 lead.
Lewis extended Tabor’s advantage to five on a basket to open the second half, but the Falcons surged to tie the game at 35. Tabor’s final lead, 46-45, came with 7:57 remaining.
After a Smith basket tied the game at 50 with 4:30 left, the Falcons launched an 8-0 run to end the game with their largest lead of the night, outscoring the Bluejays 30-19 in the second half.
“We did not make shots, we did not penetrate the zone and we were very stagnant on offense,” Reed said of the Bluejays’ second-half performance. “I am going to have to come up with some additional sets and options to aid in our zone attack.”
Tabor shot just 26 percent from the field in the second half and made only one of 11 shots behind the arc in the half.
“I thought we really struggled with Friends’ zone defense because of the caliber of athletes they have and our inability to make threes and aggressively penetrate the gaps,” Reed said. “I will work hard to get us better prepared for that type of defense.”
With the loss, Tabor dropped to 7-1 in the KCAC and 11-7 overall.
Saint Mary—The Bluejays put on a stellar performance on both ends of the court in Thursday’s road game at the University of Saint Mary and soared to a 72-57 victory.
Shooting 65 percent from the field (17-26) in the first half, Tabor surged to a 45-23 lead at the break. Janelle Rust and Nikki Lewis each scored 10 points in the first half to lead the Bluejay attack.
“We did get some better drives, and I thought that helped our three-point shooting,” coach Shawn Reed said.
The Bluejays hit five of eight shots from behind the arc in the first half (63 percent) and ended the game at 54 percent.
Despite the impressive first half, Tabor came out of the locker room with less focus, sinking only seven of 20 shots from the field (35 percent).
The Spires outscored Tabor 34-27 in the second half, but Tabor held on for the 15-point victory.
“We got some momentum back, but it was not the start we wanted,” Reed said. “I was pleased with our focus and energy in the first half, but we need to have that type of focus the entire game, regardless of the score.”
Five Bluejays scored in double digits. Katlyn Mary led the way with 14 points, Rust contributed 13, Hannah Paust 12 Jazmyne Smith 11 and Nikki Lewis 10.
Coming––The Bluejays are scheduled to host Kansas Wesleyan (5-3, 10-8) at 6 p.m. Wednesday before traveling to Sterling (4-4, 8-10) Saturday for a 5 p.m. tipoff.