Traditional rivals Tabor College and Bethel College ramped it up Wednesday night when the teams competed at North Newton. Both the women’s and men’s games went into overtime before the victors were secured.
The 16th-ranked Tabor women, tied for second in the KCAC, took it on the chin with a 66-65 loss to the Threshers, who came in as the ninth-place team in the conference.
The Tabor men overcame a first-half scoring explosion by Thresher guard Chase Banister, then pushed the game into overtime by the end of the second half. The Bluejays prevailed, 101-96, and ended the team’s three-game losing streak.
WOMEN—Tabor opened the scoring with a 3-point basket by Taylor Deniston on the Bluejays’ first possession. But, Tabor didn’t score again until Deniston scored a 2-point basket midway through the first quarter. Bethel was leading at the time, 7-3. The scoring pace picked up a bit for both teams in the last half of the period with the host team leading, 18-15.
The Bluejays finally tied the game at 20 when Kristyn Wedel hit one of two free throws with 6:26 left in the first half. Bethel didn’t buckle; instead, the Threshers finished the with a 10-5 surge for a 30-25 lead by halftime. Bethel used its quickness to penetrate the lane time and time again, but, fortunately for Tabor, the Threshers weren’t particularly proficient converting points in the lane.
The pace of the game was uneven in the third quarter. When a Kelsey Unruh free throw tied the game at 30 points with 4:45 left in the period, Bethel took charge with a 13-7 surge to lead the Bluejays 43-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bethel defended its lead until Amber Bonham finally tied the game at 55 with a basket in the lane at the 3:12 mark. Tabor had opportunities to win the game in regulation, but made only two of four free-throws and missed all four of its field-goal attempts in the final 2:19.
Tied at 57 when the buzzer sounded, the two teams kept on playing. A pair of 3-point baskets by Bonham over a 50-second span gave Tabor a 63-58 lead with 2:05 left in the extra period. But Bethel regrouped to tie the game at 63 with 32 seconds remaining. When Wedel scored off an inbounds play with 2.5 second remaining, it appeared the Bluejays would escape the upset after all.
Not so. Bethel post player Abby Schmidt took the inbounds pass and not only scored in the lane, but was fouled in the act by Wedel with a half-second left on the clock. Schmidt cooly sank the bonus free throw to end the game.
Schmidt finished with 15 points, exceeded only by Bethel’s Ciara McKinney with 18 points. Fantasia Johnson added 14 points for the Threshers, who shot 44 percent (25-57) from the floor. Tabor shot 48 percent (23-61) but outshot the Threshers from behind the arc, 8-for-18 to Bethel’s 2-11.
With the loss, Tabor’s KCAC record slips to 10-5 and its season record to 13-8. Bethel improved to 4-11 and 8-15, respectively.
MEN—The Tabor men burst out of the gate with a 10-3 lead after 4 minutes of play. The Bluejays defended their advantage before Bannister scored eight unanswered points in less than two minutes to put Bethel on top 29-27 with 5:29 left in the first half. The Bethel sharpshooter poured in nine more points to build Bethel’s lead to 44-33 with 2:15 left in the half. Tabor rallied with eight straight points to trail by only 44-41 at intermission.
Bannister scored 28 points in the first half on 9-for-12 shooting from the floor, including 6-for-9 from behind the arc.
When Tabor’s Jon Beristain tied the game at 51 four minutes into the second half, the game was essentially deadlocked thereafter, as both teams claimed and lost one- and two-point leads through the first 10 minutes of the half.
When Tabor’s scoring slowed midway through the half, Bethel built a 76-68 lead with 6:34 to play. The Threshers still led by eight, 80-72, with 4 minutes left in the game. The Bluejays tied the game with 1:08 to go when Julian Winton stole the ball and scored on a drive into the lane. He was fouled, but missed the free throw.
Bethel scored with 38.5 seconds left for an 87-85 lead. Winton drove the lane again but missed the basket and a rebound effort. But Tabor regained the ball and Diontre Cutliff scored the tying basket with 28 seconds left. Bethel played for the last shot—but missed it as the buzzer sounded.
Four Bluejays contributed points in the extra period to secure the 101-96 victory.
Bethel’s Bannister was the scoring star with 40 points for the game. For Tabor, Julian Winton quietly compiled 38 points to lead his team to a much-needed victory. DeShun Patterson added 14 points, Cutliff 13, Alan Urrutia 12 and Gaven Schumann 11 as Tabor improved to 9-6 in the KCAC and 10-11 for the season. Bethel is now 4-11 and 6-16, respectively.
COMING—The Bluejays will host Friends University on Saturday. The Friends women are the current KCAC leaders with a 12-2 record coming into Wednesday night. The Falcon men were in fourth place with a 9-5 conference record. The women’s game will begin at 5 p.m. and the men around 7 p.m.