ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Tabor College women’s basketball team has slipped into third place in the KCAC.
An 0-2 week began with a 69-50 home loss to Ottawa and ended with a 64-60 loss at Southwestern.
“Against Ottawa we just let go of our hunger and determination… but these were two completely different games,” coach Rusty Allen said. “We played with tremendous heart (against Southwestern).”
Southwestern-Behind a sizzling start from Stacie Herman, Tabor sprinted to an eight-point halftime lead against the Moundbuilders.
“We’ve been talking about her for a while-is she ready to come back with that edge she used to have? I can see her saying, ‘I think I am’ in her eyes,” Allen said.
“Tonight, she hooked it up. She played with an edge-hard and smart.”
Herman scored twice in the first 2:22, and Tabor led 4-2. But the Moundbuilders’ aggressive play on the offensive glass kept them in a one-possession game until 11:37, when Herman took over, scoring 11 points in the next 4:08. Southwestern coach Dave Denly called for time to read his players the riot act.
The Bluejay lead swelled to 13 only 1:23 later, as Erin Runge, Andrea Robinson and Emily Vogts converted turnovers into quick points.
It would have been a 15-point lead if not for a pair of free throws following a foul whistled against Donya Anderson immediately after the timeout.
It was Anderson’s third foul of the game, and it sent her to the bench for the remainder of the half.
With Anderson-one of the KCAC co-players of the week-sidelined for the rest of the half, the Moundbuilders rallied.
Runge was whistled twice in the final minute of the half, and Southwestern shot four free throws.
The first 4:48 of the second half saw a 9-5 run by the Moundbuilders. Anderson got a hand in on each of Tabor’s points during the run. She buried a 3-pointer 1:05 into the half and assisted on a 2-pointer by Vogts 1:36 later.
Anderson was called for her fourth foul at 17:01, forcing her back to the bench. Four more fouls were called in a span of 46 seconds-and all four went against the Bluejays.
With Anderson and Runge both in foul trouble, the Bluejays got some important minutes from Jenny Gaskell, who assisted on a Vogts score that gave Tabor a 50-40 lead with 12:30 to go.
Anderson reentered the game with Tabor leading 50-42, and the Bluejays pushed their advantage to 55-46 when Kirsten Watson drilled a 3-pointer at 7:56. At 6:26, Kara Beal hit a 3-pointer for Southwestern and sparked 12-0 burst over the next 2:20.
“There was a period during the second half when we did not execute very well against their zone defense,” Allen said.
It ended up being a definitive moment in the game.
The run ended when Ileana Perez-Southwestern’s KCAC co-player of the week-scored a 3-pointer that gave the Moundbuilders a 58-55 lead at 3:27.
Nicole Ellis posted a 2-point shot at 1:56 and Vogts gave Tabor a 60-58 lead with 1:06 to go.
Perez tied the game 15 seconds later. A foul called on Herman sent Jenna Wilson to the line shooting double-bonus free throws.
Wilson made both, and the Bluejays offense misfired on the next possession.
Herman fouled out with 19 left and the Moundbuilders took a 64-60 lead shooting free throws .
Perez led all scorers with 20 points and Wilson had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Beal scored 15 points.
Vogts led the Bluejays with 17 points and Herman finished with 16. As a team, Tabor made 24 of 56 shots from the field to go with a 5-for-12 performance from the line.
Southwestern made 20 of 53 field goals and 19 of 28 free throws.
“Our attitude and our execution was good, and if we play them again we’ll be ready for their zone defense and we’ll find a way to shoot more free throws,” Allen said.
Ottawa-The Braves came into Hillsboro on Thursday and handed the Bluejays their second loss of the season, 69-50.
Tabor came into the game ranked sixth in the NAIA.
When Stacie Herman scored the first 2-pointer of the game, Tabor took its first and only lead of the game.
Amanda Stichler and Tina Wilson drilled 3-point shots 22 seconds apart off of assists by Hallie Boyce. Boyce capped Ottawa’s 9-0 run with a technical-foul free throw at 16:12 for an illegal substitution.
The Bluejays closed the gap with three runs in the first half.
The first came as Emily Vogts threw in a 3-point play and Donya Anderson scored her first points of the night on a layup at 15:22.
The 5-0 burst cut it to 9-7 in Ottawa’s favor, but the Braves bounced back with a free throw at 14:14 and a layup at 13:42.
After that, Tabor assembled a 8-3 run that tied the game.
“We executed well and rebounded in the first half, but we missed too many open shots,” coach Rusty Allen said. “We could have been up by a lot at halftime.”
Despite the inordinate number of bad bounces and deflections, the Bluejays kept the pressure on, and Watson tied the game with a 2-pointer with 7:55 left in the half.
Ottawa followed with a 13-2 run powered by Boyce, who scored eight points. But the Bluejays put together a 9-1 run and went into halftime trailing by only three points, 31-28.
Tabor was outscored 38-22 in the second frame and trailed by as many as 21 points.
“We struggled shooting the ball early in the second half and we just kind of hung our heads at that point,” Allen said. “I was very disappointed. We didn’t play anywhere near our potential on offense or defense.”
“We prepared well for the game and we knew what they were going to do and we had to do to combat it. We moved the ball well and we shredded their press. But when the shots didn’t fall, we lost confidence in our game plan.”
Collectively, the Bluejays made 17 of 58 shots from the field and committed 26 turnovers.
Ottawa made 24 of 64 shots from the floor and had 17 steals.
Vogts had 12 point and 12 rebounds in a double-double effort for the home team. Watson was the only other Bluejay in double digits with 10 points.
Coming-Tabor plays at Kansas Wesleyan (3-11) at 6 p.m. Thursday and at home against Friends (6-7) at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Tabor has defeated each team once already this season.
“It is time to start thinking about how we’re going to get to the national tournament, and we’ve got to get really hungry,” coach Rusty Allen said.