Bluejay women defeat Bethany for 14th straight win

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Bethany had almost all of the ingredients for an upset recipe Saturday night in Lindsborg: home-court advantage, boisterous crowd, momentum and inspired play.

But the Swedes were lacking one key component in their bid to topple the sixth-ranked Tabor College women: the heart of a defending champion.

Tabor used that heart to survive a Hahn Arena scare and defeat Bethany, 60-55.

Tabor’s come-from-behind win put a smile on coach Rusty Allen’s face.

“We’ve got a lot of heart because we played really, really hard this entire game,” Allen said. “I just can’t say enough about the heart we showed tonight when we were really up against it.”

It didn’t take long to realize the game would come down to a survival of the fittest. Tied at 4-4, Bethany scored the next six points to establish the largest lead either team enjoyed all night.

Tabor jumped back on top 15-12 on a Donya Anderson field goal with 11:46 left in the half. But Anderson played only 10 minutes in the half after picking up two quick fouls.

“She was on early,” Allen said. “She was on pace to score about 15 points tonight.”

In Anderson’s absence, Tabor took advantage of its deep bench. Even so, the game was tied six times in the first half, which ended at 28-28.

In the second half, the score was knotted five times, the last time at 41.

With the shot clock at one second, Nicole Ellis hit an arcing 22-footer from the wing to put Tabor on top 44-41 at the 8:28 mark.

Tabor went scoreless for the next four minutes as shot after shot rimmed off into the waiting hands of a Swede.

In the meantime, Bethany scored eight straight points to take a 49-44 lead to the delight of its delirious fans.

Still confident in a positive outcome, Allen signalled timeout to calm his combatants with 4:32 to play.

“We tried to get them to be more poised on the offensive end,” Allen said. “You get that little surge when you know you have to go now.”

And go the Bluejays did.

With Anderson disqualified at the 9:38 mark with five fouls and Hein in a similar plight moments later, Allen confidently went to his bench and got just what he expected-solid, steady play.

A Katie Tedder field goal cut the deficit to 49-46. Tabor then converted a Bethany turnover into another basket 20 seconds later to cut the lead to one.

Bethany responded to increase its lead to 52-48 with 2:09 remaining. After trading baskets, Tabor trailed 54-50 at the 1:39 mark.

Stacie Herman hit a short jumper and Bethany’s Katelyn Hinkin made a free throw to give Bethany a 55-52 lead with 1:25 to go. The point proved to be the last one the Swedes would score.

Meanwhile, Erica Hemmert drained a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 55-54 before Vogts scored on a Hemmert assist to put Tabor over the top at 56-55 with 50 seconds remaining.

On the defensive end, after Tedder swatted a Dallas Archer shot, Hemmert retrieved the ball, was fouled and calmly drained to more free throws.

“I just concentrated on my form and took a deep breath,” Hemmert said of her tosses. “I thought about my follow through and remembered to bend my knees. I know it was a huge relief when they went through.”

Herman added a pair of insurance free throws with two seconds left.

Hein and Ellis led Tabor with 12 points each while Hemmert added 11. Ellis added three rebounds and no turnovers.

“She and Tedder played so well tonight that we were able to overcome the loss of Jill and Donya,” Allen said.

Hinkin led Bethany with 15 points.

Tabor made 22 of 59 field-goal attempts (37 percent) while Bethany made 17 of 53 (32 percent). Both teams committed 23 turnovers.

With its 14th straight win, Tabor improved to 10-0 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and 17-3 overall. Bethany fell to 7-3 and 9-10.

Bethel- On paper, it shouldn’t have been much of a game. On the court, it really wasn’t.

Tabor entered Thursday’s game riding a 12-game winning streak while the Threshers were mired in a 12-game losing skid.

When the final horn sounded, both streaks were alive at 13, as Tabor defeated Bethel, 68-50, in North Newton.

But it took a while for Tabor to pull away from the overmatched Threshers. Coach Rusty Allen said his team lacked patience early in the game.

“We shot the ball quickly and often times from the perimeter, which wasn’t a part of our game play, that’s for sure,” he said. “Really off and on throughout the entire first half, we made bad decisions with the basketball.

“I say that because we had an advantage around the basket, and if we didn’t have the fast break, we should have tried to go to our advantage and use the outside shot as our second option.”

But it was a Kirsten Watson 3-point basket that staked Tabor to an 11-5 lead midway through the first half. Bethel’s Jacy Suttlemyre drilled three jumpers from the wing in just under a minute of play to tie the game at 11 with 11:28 left in the half.

Bethel was still in the game with 4:49 left, trailing 22-19.

But Tabor scored the next nine points to open a 31-19 lead three minutes later and eventually took a 33-22 lead into halftime.

Allen said his team’s defense keyed the eruption on offense.

“We knew Bethel has been hiving trouble with their point guard play so they used Sheena (Walters) to bring the ball up,” Allen said. “We decided her natural position isn’t point guard, so we trapped her and we were very effective.”

The Threshers committed 16 first by halftime.

Tabor’s advantage grew to 18 points five minutes into the second period before Allen replaced his starters with reserves Watson, Shannon Kroeker, Nicole Ellis, Erica Dechant and Katie Tedder.

That move paid immediate dividends, Allen said.

“I thought our second five, for about five minutes, played about the best stretch of basketball of the night for us, offensively,” he said. “We executed well, took care of the basketball, hit some mid-range jumpers and got the ball to the rim.”

The Bluejay lead grew to as many as 21 points with just over six minutes left before Tabor settled for the 18-point win.

Donya Anderson led Tabor with 13 points, Erica Hemmert added 12 and Stacie Herman 11 as the Bluejays hit 27 of 59 (46 percent) from the field, but only four of 14 (29 percent) from the 3-point line.

Tabor was a chilly 56 percent (10 of 18) from the free-throw line.

Former Marion Warrior Brandi Peterie-Shipman led Bethel with 13 points. The Threshers hit 43 percent (17-40) from the field and 13 of 21 from the charity stripe.

Tabor’s defense forced 31 Thresher mistakes while Tabor was guilty of 23 turnovers.

Coming- Tabor faces a huge week as it hosts Sterling on Thursday and Southwestern on Saturday. Those games will begin at 6 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.

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