ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
With two more weekend victories to extend its streak to six straight wins, the Tabor College women’s basketball team will enter conference play on a
Tabor defeated Missouri Baptist University, 73-67, on Friday night and Texas Wesleyan University, 64-43, on Saturday night. Both games were played in Salina.
“Those are good wins for us against bigger schools-they’re both NAIA Division-I teams,” coach Rusty Allen said. “I wouldn’t say they’re great teams, but they’re good teams.”
Against Missouri Baptist, Tabor led by as many as eight points and trailed by as many as seven in a streaky first half.
The Bluejays grabbed a 6-0 lead in the first 2:26 with a Nicole Ellis layup. But MBU bounced back with a 13-0 run.
Ellis then broke the Spartans run with a bucket that sparked a 19-2 run that put Tabor ahead 25-17 with 9:15 left in the half.
MBU then took a turn, outscoring the Bluejays 13-3 over the next five minutes, and the Bluejays melted into a three-point deficit.
Ellis hit her fourth shot of the half with 4:06 on the clock and Emily Vogts followed with a pair of free throws for a one-point lead.
Angela Cerrito drained consecutive three-pointers for six of her 24 points and gave the Spartans a five-point lead with a minute remaining before the buzzer.
But Erin Runge, Vogts and Donya Anderson scored three straight buckets and Tabor took a 40-39 lead into the break.
Following a manic first half that saw 12 lead changes, the teams played a hotly contested second half and stayed within four points of each other until Chelsea Malone’s foul shots with 16 ticks to go put the Bluejays up by six.
But it was Vogts who sealed the “W” with five points in the final 1:27. Vogts led the team with 22 points-11 in each half-and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Anderson also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Tabor got 10 points apiece from Andrea Robinson and Ellis to go with 11 from the bench.
The balanced attack helped Tabor shoot better than 40 percent from the field. Allen’s team held the Spartans under 33 shooting percent in the second half.
Playing in her first game at the college level, Malone recorded five points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
“She got (medically) released last Monday to play, practiced on Monday and Thursday, then played in both games,” Allen said. “She’s still trying to find her rhythm. She’s been sitting out for five weeks and so I didn’t have great expectations. For the circumstance, I think she played great.”
Another Bluejay is close to returning to the lineup. Injured sophomore center Jenny Gaskell may be healthy in time for the start of conference play.
Malone played 16 minutes against Texas Wesleyan, a game Tabor won with strong defense.
Texas Wesleyan hit 11 of 28 field-goal attempts and added six free throws in the first half of Saturday’s game.
But, in addition to nailing 50 percent of their shots, the Tabor women delivered a crushing defensive performance in the second half.
The Bluejays led by five when the half began, but allowed the Rams only 15 points the rest of the way while scoring 31 of their own.
Robinson was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points.
Vogts had a team-high five assists and 15 points.
“(Vogts) has also been guarding the other team’s best player,” Allen said.
Ellis scored 12 points; Anderson had a game-high 11 rebounds along with eight points and four assists.
“I feel like these games have really prepared us well for conference play,” Allen said. “But I guess that remains to be seen.”
The team turned over the ball more often than Allen would have liked in both games.
“We still have a lot of room to improve our decision-making,” he said.
Coming-Tabor plays the Bethel Threshers at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Newton and has its first home game against McPherson on Saturday, Dec. 2. Tip time against the Bulldogs is 5 p.m.