ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College women’s basketball team kicked off its season with a pair of losses at Point Lookout, Mo., over the weekend
Facing two of the top programs in the Midwest at the College of the Ozarks Classic, the Bluejays came home with an 0-2 record, but the games offered a dramatic contrast.
On Friday, Tabor faced the host College of the Ozarks and got manhandled, 86-49.
The next day, the Bluejays battled John Brown University, ranked 12th in NAIA Division I, and lost a narrow 54-50 decision.
In the opener, coach Rusty Allen said the Bluejays acted unprepared for a full game.
“We played relatively hard and smart for 10 minutes, but once they had one of their runs, I thought we pretty much gave up,” he said.
Acknowledging the Bobcats as an outstanding team, Allen said the score was deceiving.
“They’re a really good team and I expect they’ll be one of the best teams we face all season,” he said. “But on a normal night, I wouldn’t expect them to be 37 points better than us.”
Tabor trailed 47-25 at halftime and never threatened in the second half.
Erica Hemmert and Katie Fast led Tabor with 16 points each.
Allen said Hemmert struggled for points, but Fast was the night’s most pleasant surprise.
“Katie played superb in this game,” he said. “She has a lot of things to learn yet, but she’s getting a lot out of her physical abilities.
“I feel good about her progress and she really did have a nice game,” he added. “I’d say she was the bright spot for us in this game.”
Tabor hit just 21 of 63 shots (33 percent while the Bobcats connected on 31 of 64 (48 percent) tries.
“We shot poorly on top of everything else,” Allen said. “There were a lot of things we just didn’t do well.”
Tabor grabbed 37 rebounds while the College of the Ozarks grabbed 46.
On Saturday, Tabor faced the daunting task of playing the highly rated Golden Eagles.
After getting annihilated the previous day, Allen said he didn’t know what to expect.
“We had a relatively long talk about what we needed to work on Saturday morning,” he said, “and we watched film before going to the gym.”
Although Tabor dropped the four-point decision, Allen said the day was a success.
“We played up to our potential-to the credit of our team they just turned it around,” he said.
After the first 20 minutes of play, both teams headed to the locker room tied at 26.
Tabor connected on 11 of 23 shots (48 percent) in the first half.
But the Golden Eagles outscoring the Bluejays, 28-24, in the second half.
Hemmert led the Bluejays with 21 points, and drew praise from her coach.
“Erica had a stellar game, simply outstanding,” Allen said. “Every shot she made was a difficult shot.”
What made the outing more exceptional was the fact Hemmert battled foul problems.
“She played almost the entire second half with four fouls, so she didn’t rebound like she can,” Allen said.
Nicole Ellis added 10 points.
For the game, Tabor hit on 20 of 49 (41 percent) of their shots including four of 13 from 3-point range.
The Bluejays snared 37 rebounds compared to 33 for the Golden Eagles.
“We really did some growing up in a day’s time,” Allen said. “We know when we schedule a non-conference schedule as difficult as ours is, we aren’t going to win every game.
“We just want to get better,” he said. “We really needed to play better on Saturday to be satisfied with our trip down there and we did that.
“We still lost, but realistically we could have won this game. But we’re confident we got better and we’re looking forward to our next game.”
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL