Tabor women defeat Friends in KCAC tourney championship

The 20th-ranked Tabor College women’s basketball team knocked off 11th-ranked and top-seeded Friends in the KCAC tournament finals Monday by a score of 74-70.

Friends had gotten the best of the Bluejays in the teams’ two regular-season meetings, but Monday proved the third time’s the charm.

Both teams started the game on fire offensively, and the first quarter ended with Friends and Tabor each shooting upwards of 70 percent from the field.

Friends scored 20 of its 28 first-quarter points in the paint, while Tabor scored 12 of its 23 points from three-point range.

Kaleigh Troxell lit the fuse with a three-pointer at the 9:20 mark, then Morgan Ediger made a trey 36 seconds later to give Tabor a 6-4 lead.

Friends, however, benefitted from three Bluejay turnovers and two misses to enjoy an 11-0 run before Troxell broke the drought with her second three-pointer at the 5:50 mark. Troxell made her third trey to bring Tabor within 17-14, and Tabor trailed by five, 28-23, at the first break. The Bluejays made 73 percent of their attempts from the field in the quarter (8-for-11). Friends made 71 percent (12-for-17).

Ediger and Troxell contributed to a 6-0 Bluejay run to start the second quarter to put Tabor in front by one, 29-28, but by halftime, Friends had reclaimed the lead, 39-35.

The Falcons increased their margin to 46-37 after intermission, but Tabor began to chip away at the deficit. Troxell made her fourth and fifth three-pointers in the quarter. Her fifth brought Tabor within 53-50 at the final break.

Tabor battled at the charity stripe in the final period, making all 16 free-throws attempted. Ediger led the charge with a perfect 8-for-8.

After Friends extended its lead to 55-50, Loewen scored in the paint and Ediger made two free-throws and a basket in a 27-second span to put Tabor up by one, 56-55.

Friends regained the lead with a 5-0 run, and led, 62-58, with 5:53 to play. Jurnee Reid and Amber Bonham chipped in two free-throws each to tie the game, and a basket by Loewen put Tabor in front, 64-62, with 3:31 to go. Ediger capped the 8-0 run a minute later with two charity shots, making it 66-62.

However, Friends drained a three after that and made two free-throws to regain the lead, 67-66. Tabor responded by scoring the game’s next six points—four by Ediger at the charity stripe. That put Tabor in front, 72-67, with 14 seconds to go. Friends nailed another trey with 4 seconds left, then sent Taylor Deniston to the free-throw line with 3 seconds to play. She made both attempts to seal Tabor’s victory.

For the game, Tabor was 23-for-24 at the charity stripe (96 percent), and the Bluejays made 56 percent of their attempts from the field (22-for-39), including 44 percent from three (7-for-16). Friends made 48 percent of its field goal attempts (27-for-56).

Ediger led Tabor’s scoring effort with 19 points. Loewen and Troxell each scored 17. Troxell was 5-for-8 from three-point range. Friends’ Shann Sellers led all scorers with 32 points.

Tabor will now turn its attention to the NAIA Division II national championship in Sioux City, Iowa, March 8-14.

For scores and updates during games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13