The Tabor College women, whose season a few weeks ago seemed to be a setting sun on the horizon, have seen the dawn of a new day with a 70-60 first-round victory over Bethany College in the quarterfinal round of the KCAC tournament on Wednesday in Lindsborg.
The Bluejays, seeded No. 7 in the tournament, have renewed their chemistry with the return of all-conference player Morgan Ediger, and the Bluejays proved it with their 10-point win over No. 2 seeded Bethany.
Tabor took the offensive initiative from the start when freshman Sammy Jo Peterson drained a 3-point basket for the first points of the game.
Bethany, meanwhile, shot poorly from the start. When Tabor’s Kelsey Unruh scored in the paint at 4:45, the Bluejays established a 10-5 lead. Tabor led 13-7 with less than a minute left in the first quarter before Bethany’s Bartel hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to narrow the lead to 13-10.
Bethany claimed the lead briefly at 17-15 three minutes into the second quarter, then nudged the lead to 21-18 at 4:50. But Tristen Leiszler tied the game with a 3-point basket, Mollie Hawkins hit two free throws and a basket, and Unruh made one of two free throws to give the Bluejays a 28-25 lead at intermission.
Tabor’s offense heated up in the second half. Taylor Deniston hit a 2-pointer and a deep 3-pointer back-to-back for a 33-27 lead. The margin stayed generally between five and eight points the rest of the quarter, which ended with Tabor leading, 48-40.
The two teams stayed mostly within that parameter during the final quarter. Despite pressure in a hostile environment, Tabor posted their emotionally huge 10-point victory over the Swedes.
Ediger finished as the Jays’ top scorer with 15 points, but Peterson was right behind with 13 and Deniston with 12. As a team, Tabor continued its hot shooting of late with 54.3 percent accuracy (24-44).
Bethany managed 34 percent accuracy (17-50), and was led by Lauren Welsch with a game-high 21 points. Tabor held the edge in 3-point shooting (8-19 for TC, 3-12 for BC), while Bethany held the edge at the free-thow line (23-30 to 14-19).
The win gives Tabor a 16-13 record for the season. The Bluejays’ opponent in the tournament semifinals had not been determined at this writing.