Bluejay men lose two more against tough opponents

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL & DON RATZLAFF
Tabor College continued its rugged pre-conference schedule by battling Texas Wesleyan, ranked 25 in NAIA Division II, and William Jewell College at the Sterling Classic this weekend

Although the Bluejays showed promise against Texas Wesleyan, the Rams defeated Tabor 73-67, on Friday. William Jewell pounded the Bluejays on Saturday, 98-72.

Texas Wesleyan-Tabor managed to battle the Rams toe-to-toe for about 30 minutes of Friday’s contest. Unfortunately, the other 10 minutes proved fatal.

“We had long stretches of basketball where we played very poorly offensively, and gave up big runs,” coach Don Brubacher said. “When you’re playing against a team that has exceptional talent and exceptional ability, you cannot give up that many points in a short stretch of time and expect to recover from that.”

Tabor stayed relatively close in the opening minutes of the contest, trailing just 12-9 with 16:25 left in the first half. But a 9-0 run by the Rams over the next three minutes spread the lead to 20-9.

The Bluejays showed flashes of greatness over the next 10 minutes, and actually grabbed a 32-31 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.

But Tabor’s effort and concentration ended two minutes before the half did. Texas Wesleyan capitalized to grab a 38-32 lead at intermission.

Tabor was out-rebounded by the athletic Rams 32-16 in the first half.

The Bluejays stayed close in the second half, trailing by just six points, 44-38, with just over 16 minutes left in the game.

But another stretch of Bluejay inactivity led to a Ram surge over the next three minutes that catapulted Texas Wesleyan to a 15-point lead, 55-40, at the 14:13 mark.

“We gave up a lot in a very short period of time, and we spent the other 30 minutes of the game trying to battle back from that 10 minutes of very poor play,” Brubacher said.

But the Bluejays did battle back over the next 10 minutes, cutting the margin to four points with 2:12 to play.

“We did play hard and we found a way to compete to try to put ourselves in a position to win,” Brubacher said. “We just made far too many mistakes and, for whatever reason, gave up too much from the free-throw line.”

Texas Wesleyan attempted 40 charity tosses and made 19, compared to just 15 attempts by the Bluejays, who canned nine.

“When that happens and you’re out rebounded, you pretty much have to do a lot of other things very right to stand a chance to win,” Brubacher said. “We just had too many turnovers (18) and too many poor offensive possessions.”

Unable to hit the key basket down the stretch and get a defensive stop, the Bluejays finally succumbed to the Rams, 73-67.

“Overall, I’m not satisfied in any way,” Brubacher said. “As far as I’m concerned, those runs we gave up cost us the game. Our game disintegrated and we simply did not compete or execute.”

Tabor was led in scoring by Jeremiah Randall with 14 points, and Jered Reese added 13 points.

Tabor did close the rebounding gap, but the Rams still won that battle, 50-37.

Tabor connected on 38.5 percent of its shots from the field, including eight of 24 from beyond the 3-point arc. The Rams hit 42.4 percent of their attempts.

William Jewell-In the end, William Jewell College played in sync and Tabor never really did as the Cardinals defeated the Bluejays, 98-72, in Saturday’s matchup at the Sterling Classic.

William Jewell (5-2) hit their first five shots from the field and first two free throws to jump to a 13-6 lead just over two minutes into the game.

Over the next three minutes, the Bluejays missed their next five shots from the floor and the Cardinals were up 19-7.

At that point, coach Don Brubacher substituted in a whole new lineup that more or less held their own over the next 7:30. When Chris Myers stuck back a rebound with 7:13 left in the half, the Bluejays trailed by 15 points, 36-21.

With most of the starters back in, Tabor endured an 11-3 Cardinal run in which the Jays went 0-for-4 from the floor and only 3-of-6 from the charity stripe when they attempted to penetrate.

Anthony Monson finally brooke the field goal drought on a drive to the basket with 2:08 left in the half, but Tabor still trailed by 18 at intermission, 49-31, when Cody Schafer nailed a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the period.

Tabor played its best basketball of the game through the first 6:30 of the second half. A free throw by Monson completed a 10-2 Bluejay run over a three-minute stretch to cut the Cardinal lead to 13, 63-50, with 13:38 to play.

But consecutive baskets by Clint Underwood, Drew Matthews and Travis Swinford ignited a 14-4 Cardinal run for 77-54 margin with about 9 minutes to go.

William Jewell’s biggest lead came with 2:33 to go when a free throw by Jason Crum but the Cardinals on top, 93-66.

Statistically, Tabor actually held an edge in rebounding, 38-34, and committed only six more turnovers than the Cardinals, 23 to 17. But William Jewell held a 36-10 advantage in points off the turnover, and they outshot the Bluejays from the floor, 59 percent to 41 percent.

The Bluejays had no answer for Stout, a 6-foot, 5-inch guard, who finished with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor. The Cardinals had four players in double figures.

The Bluejays, meanwhile, had three players in double figures-two of whom were non-starters: sophomore Matt Nelson, who canned a team-high 12, and sophomore Colby Bettis, who chipped in 10. Starter Brad Gattis added 11.

The Bluejays managed only six 3-pointers in 25 attempts and made only 18 of 32 free-throw attempts.

Coming-The Bluejays, winless through the first four games, was scheduled to take on a strong Newman University team on Tuesday.

This weekend, they will play host at the Tabor Thanksgiving Tournament with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off against Missouri Valley on Friday and a 5 p.m. game on Saturday against Fresno (Calif.) Pacific University.

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