It took a nail-biter finish to get the job done, but senior forward and All-Conference returnee Ryan Chippeaux stepped up for his team in the final moments of tonight’s game to help the Tabor men’s basketball team earn a 64-61 road win over McPherson College and improve to 1-1 in the conference.
The victory comes after the women’s team defeated the Bulldogs, 66-56, to win their second straight conference game on the road and jump to second in the KCAC standings with a 5-5 overall record.
Men – The Tabor men’s basketball team and host McPherson remained in a deadlock most of an extremely low-scoring first half. In just under the first 20 minutes of play time, Tabor scored four points – two of which came at the line – but held the Bulldogs to only seven.
At 8:57 Chippeaux broke things open with a three-pointer to tie it, 7-7. That sparked a back-and-forth battle for the lead, but Nick Sauer and JT Nemitt hit consecutive threes to give Tabor a narrow lead.
McPherson capped an eight-point run with two freebies to tie it, 18-18, with just over three minutes on the clock. The Bulldogs carried a slim 25-21 lead into the break.
However, galvanized by what coach Micah Ratzlaff called “one of the better halftime speeches of my career,” the Bluejays jumped right back in the game in the second half. Tabor chipped away at the Bulldog lead, then scored on a steal to tie it, 36-36, near the 14-minute mark. After a brief but intense battle for the advantage, Brent Jackson drained a three-pointer to give Tabor a one-point lead and teammates Michael Janzen and Robbie Samuel combined for five points to put the Bluejays firmly on top.
With four minutes remaining, the Bulldogs once more rallied to tie it, 54-54. But Chippeaux came through with a basket for the one-point lead and followed it up with another score on the rebound to make it 58-54 with 2:42 left. With just over a minute left McPherson made a three-pointer and scored off a steal at 37 seconds to take back a 61-60 lead, but it wouldn’t last.
Sauer made both free throws for a one-point lead and McPherson missed both freebies on its next possession. Tabor got its second big stop in as many minutes on defense, then Chippeaux was perfect at the line to seal the win, 64-61.
Chippeaux showed up in a big way tonight, knocking down 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for yet another double-double. Samuel was just behind with 11 points and eight rebounds and Sauer added 10 points and eight boards. Jackson chipped in eight points.
Tabor shot just 21 percent from the field and 18 percent from three-point range in the first half, compared to 51 and 14 percent in the second half, respectively. They out-rebounded McPherson, 41-40, and were 16-20 at the line. The Bulldogs made 15 freebies in 23 attempts.
Women – The Bulldogs bit off more than they could chew as Tabor cruised to a double-digit road victory at McPherson, 66-56.
The Bluejays blazed out the gate with 14 straight unanswered points, capped by a three-pointer from Janelle Rust. McPherson chipped away at Tabor’s lead, but improved perimeter shooting from the Bluejays and and strength on the boards gave the ‘Jays a 34-21 lead at the half.
The Bulldogs found a spark to begin the second half with a seven-point run, but a bucket from Tabor’s Nikki Lewis halted the momentum. The margin hovered around double digits, but McPherson could never quite get the advantage against a Bluejay offense that didn’t let up. Tabor walked away with the 10-point win.
Lewis led the Bluejay attack with 17 points, aided by Rust, who had 15 points and earned the double-double with 15 rebounds. Chipping in were Jazmyne Smith with nine points and Molly Moran with eight. Tabor out-rebounded McPherson, 38-36, and shot close to 50 percent from the field throughout the game, going 6-16 at the perimeter.