Tabor men falter with first-round loss to IU East

TaborMensBB-DSC_0047The Tabor College men’s basketball team suffered a 91-68 defeat at the hands of Indiana University East Thursday in the first round of the NAIA Division II national tournament.

Tabor leaned heavily on its defense throughout its historic season in which the Bluejays rolled to a perfect, 20-0 conference record and tallied 30 wins and just three losses heading into the national tournament.

But on the nation’s biggest stage, the Bluejays faltered, matched against an IU East team shooting lights out–the Red Wolves made nearly 59 percent of their shots from the field in the game (34-58) and 52 percent from beyond the arc (12-23).

The Red Wolves established themselves early. The game’s leading scorer, Vasha Davis, scored 10 of his team’s first 12 points on his way to a 25-point outing, to give IU East a 12-6 advantage.

The Bluejays, meanwhile, made just three field goals and two charity shots in the first eight minutes. With Tabor trailing, 19-9, John Jedneak scored six of Tabor’s next eight points, but IU East’s lead continued to hover between single and double digits.

Lance Carter, who finished with 18 points on the afternoon, scored his first two with 3:39 left in the half and followed with a three-pointer 30 seconds later, making it 39-28. IU East scored six unanswered points to close the half for a 45-28 margin at intermission. The Red Wolves made 62 percent of their shots from the field in the first half (18-29), including nearly 54 percent from beyond the arc (7-13).

Tabor matched the Red Wolves much more closely in the second half, but when IU East continued to make shots (16-29 in the second half for 55 percent), the hole became too large from which to climb.

The Red Wolves outscored Tabor 8-3 in the first 3:13 to extend their lead beyond 20, and with 14:48 to play, IU East held a 62-39 advantage. Tabor’s defense stepped up its intensity, with Jonathan Gibson blocking a shot followed by two Red Wolf turnovers. D’Marco Smith and Carter contributed to a 6-0 run to bring Tabor within 62-45. Just as quickly, though, IU East stretched it to 68-45.

The Red Wolves, who continued to find success on the offensive end, enjoyed their largest lead of the afternoon, 77-51, with 8:02 to play.

Tullio Parry later capped a 9-2 burst with a pair of three-pointers, but still, Tabor trailed by 18, 80-62. The closest Tabor got after that was within 17, and the Bluejays fell by 23 in the end.

Carter led the Bluejay effort with 18 points. Smith added 12, and Davaghndre Jones and Jedneak 10 each.

Tabor concludes the season with an overall record of 30-4.

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