Tabor women earn first-round win over Indiana Tech, 67-58

The Tabor College women’s basketball team opened play in the NAIA Division II National Championship with a first-round victory over Indiana Tech Wednesday, 67-58.

The fourth-seeded Warriors entered the contest scoring an average of 79 points per game, and averaging 9.6 made three-point attempts per game. The Warriors also presented an inside presence, their leading scorer, Keanna Gary, a 6-foot, 1-inch center averaging 17.9 points per game, meaning coach Shawn Reed said it was necessary for the Bluejays to pick their poison defensively.

In the end, the fifth-seeded Bluejays held the Warriors to 21 points below their average, limiting Indiana Tech to 41 percent shooting (21-for-51), including 33 percent from three (5-for-15).

Gary finished with 15 points to lead her team in scoring. She scored seven of her team’s first 10 points within the game’s first six minutes, then did not score again the duration of the half.

Meanwhile, Morgan Ediger, who also scored 15 for the game, made two three-pointers within the game’s first four minutes to help contribute to an early, 8-4, Bluejay lead. Tabor made eight of 12 attempts in the first quarter (67 percent), including 3-for-4 from three-point range (75 percent) to propel the Bluejays to a 21-15 lead at the first break.

Tabor stretched its lead to double figures, 26-15, when Tena Loewen and Taylor Deniston made two- and three-point baskets in the first 1:31 of the second period. The Bluejays led by as many as 12, 31-19, but a two-minute scoreless stretch allowed the Warriors to close the gap to 31-24. Tabor led by eight at halftime, 36-28, having made 52 percent of its field goal attempts (14-for-27), while limiting the Warriors to 46 percent (10-for-22) including just 20 percent from long range (1-for-5).

Gary picked up her third foul two and a half minutes into the third period, sending her to the bench, but Indiana Tech caught fire from three-point range, making three three-pointers in the third quarter, trimming what had been a 10-point Bluejay advantage to two, 47-45, when Haley Cook drained a three at the 2:01 mark. Jurnee Reid scored at the buzzer to make it 49-45 heading into the final break.

After the Warriors again narrowed the gap to two, 49-47, Tabor scored the game’s next four points, and the closest Indiana Tech got after that was within four. Amber Bonham drained a triple after that, and Tabor made five of eight free-throws in the final 3:40 to help nail down the nine-point win.

Ediger shared top scoring honors with Gary with 15 points. Reid scored 13 and Kaleigh Troxell 10.

Tabor advances to play the winner of St. Francis (Ill.) and UC Merced (Calif.) Friday at noon.