The Tabor College basketball teams hosted Friends University on Saturday night. It was a matchup where both Bluejay teams were looking up the KCAC ladder for an opportunity to pull off a pair of upsets. But the opportunity was short-lived as both Tabor teams ended up losing by double-digits in a second-half fade.
The Tabor women were overwhelmed by conference leading Friends, 83-58, and the Bluejay men lost to the second-place men’s team, 76-64.
WOMEN—For most of the game, Tabor remained in range of the high-flying Falcons, who are 14-2 in KCAC play and four games ahead of Tabor in the rankings. Friends managed a 17-14 lead after one quarter and a 31-26 margin by halftime.
The Bluejays started the third quarter with a 6-2 surge to pull within one point of Friends, 33-32, with 7:27 left in the quarter. Five turnovers and four missed shots later, the Bluejays were drifting away at 41-32. But, one more Bluejay surge — two baskets by Tristen Leiszler and a traditional 3-point play by Taylor Deniston — pulled Tabor to within 43-39 with 2:30 left in the quarter.
But it was Friends who turned up the heat down the stretch with a 9-2 run that gave the visitors their first double-digit lead of the game at 52-41 as the third quarter ended.
Kelsey Unruh and Megan Voth hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Tabor within 54-47 at the 8:35 mark. But over the next four minutes, the Falcons took control with an 18-4 run for a 72-51 lead midway through the quarter. The Falcons kept inflating the lead until the very end of the game, finishing with a 25-point margin of victory.
Leiszler was the only Bluejay to reach double-digit points, finishing with 10. Friends had five players scoring in double figures, led by Makenzie Vining with 17. Beyond the score, the most significant stat was turnovers. The Bluejays committed 29 to only 12 for the Falcons and were out rebounded on the offensive end, 14-6.
The loss drops Tabor to 10-6 in the conference and 13-9 overall. Friends maintains a two-game lead in the KCAC at 14-2 and are 16-7 for the season.
MEN—The flow of the men’s game was very similar to the women’s game. The Falcons led by a modest margin all the way through the first half. Tabor led briefly at 5-4 early in the game, and tied the game at 21 at the 9:22 mark. But Friends surged ahead with a 17-3 run and led Tabor, 38-24, with 4:47 left in the half.
The Falcons lost some of their altitude as the clock wound down to halftime. When Tabor’s Jon Beristain hit back to back baskets in the paint around the 1:00 mark, the Bluejays were back within four points by intermission, 40-36.
Tabor maintained the short leash, and even pulled ahead briefly, 48-47, when Jordan Horstick nailed a 3-point basket from the corner with 12:32 left.
Unfortunately, the Bluejays went without a field goal for the next 6:10. When DeShun Patterson scored a field goal in the lane, Tabor was trailing, 62-52. The margin between the two teams continued about the same down the stretch until reaching the final score of 76-64.
Two Bluejays reach double-digit scoring, Julian Winton with 24 points and Beristain with 10. Friends had four players in double figures, led by Jordan Murdock with 24. As a team, Tabor shot 40 percent (25-62) from the field while Friends shot 45 percent (28-62). Tabor was out-rebounded, 42-32 in total and 30-23 on the defensive end.
With the win, the Falcons improved to 11-5 in the KCAC and 13-10 overall, while Tabor slipped to 9-7 and 10-12. The Bluejays have lost four of the last five games.
COMING—The Tabor College teams will travel to Leavenworth Jan. 31 to play the University of Saint Mary. On Saturday, Tabor will play at Bethany College in Lindsborg. For both road trips, the women will begin play at 5 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m.