Tabor?s Thursday night 72-59 victory over Kansas Wesleyan at Mabee Arena in Salina is best described as a tale of two halves.
After starting the game with a 14-5 run, Tabor saw its lead dwindle away as Kansas Wesleyan grabbed its first lead at 17-16 with nine minutes left in the first half. The Coyotes led by as much as eight before Tabor came back to tie the game at 28 with under three minutes in the stanza.
Tied with the KCAC basement dwelling Coyotes 30-30 at half, Tabor coach Micah Ratzlaff made some adjustments defensively.
?With their flex offense, we were switching everything,? Ratzlaff said. ?They were catching up with mis-matches and at halftime. We decided to just throw all that out the window.?
Ratzlaff instructed his team to play straight up man-to-man instead of switching off screens. The adjustment not only created more intensity on the defensive end of the floor but proved to help the Bluejays on the boards and offensively.
?It kind of gave us an edge,? Ratzlaff said. ?We rebounded better, got some stops and I thought it helped us be way better on the offensive end. When you?re aggressive like that and you?re going as hard as you possibly can and your having to fight, that?s going to pay off on the other end.?
In the second half, Tabor held the Coyotes to 36 percent shooting from the field. The Bluejays found their stroke, shooting 48 percent from the field and 5-9 from three.
After falling behind early in the second half, Tabor retook the 41-40 lead with under 14 minutes remaining and never looked back. Tabor would extend its lead to as much as 14 points in the final minutes.
Damon Dechant led all scorers with 20 points. He also pulled down nine rebounds. Lawson Kingsley added 18 and Kyle Kroeker 13. Also scoring for Tabor were Cody Arnold (9), Daniel Hann (5), Michael Janzen (3) and Ryan Chippeaux and Rob Moore (2).
Kansas Wesleyan finished with three players in double figures. Joe Harvey led the Coyotes with 16, Tyler Antenen scored 14 and Matthew Dickman 11.
On a 10-game losing streak, the Coyotes fell to 0-5 in KCAC play and 3-11 overall. They have yet to win a game in Mabee Arena this season.
Tabor improved to a 3-2 KCAC record and 6-8 overall. Tied with Southwestern, the Bluejays are third in the KCAC standings.
Saturday, Tabor will play Bethany in Hillsboro. Game time is 7 p.m.