Tabor women roll past Hastings to open NAIA tourney

The Tabor College women?s basketball team defeated Hastings (Neb.) in the first round of the NAIA Division II national championship Thursday, 68-44.

The victory avenged a 57-54 loss to the Broncos last November.

In a defensive game, both teams jockeyed to gain the upper hand, each turning it over multiple times early. It was not until the second half that Tabor established itself and fell into rhythm.

Following a 6-6 tie, Amber Bonham scored on a traditional three-point play to ignite a 7-2 rush to end the first quarter. Mallory Zuercher capped scoring in the period with a three-point play to give Tabor a 13-8 edge at the first break.

But Hastings came roaring back in the second period, leading by as many as 21-18 after a three-pointer midway through. After that, though, Morgan Ediger and Taylor Deniston teamed up to outscore Hastings 7-1, pushing Tabor in front at halftime, 25-22.

Zuercher and Taylor Hurd teamed up for a 6-2 burst to start the third quarter, and when Hastings scored just four points in the first five minutes, the Bluejays took full advantage, enjoying a 37-26 margin after Bonham scored at the 5:00 mark. Hastings picked up some ground to end the period, leaving Tabor in front, 44-37.

Tabor poured on the points in the fourth quarter, outscoring Hastings, 24-7. Zuercher started things off with a trey. Ediger capped a 12-0 run with a trey of her own, putting Tabor in front, 56-37, with 6:13 to play. From there, it was smooth sailing, as Tabor cruised to the 24-point win.

Jurnee Reid led the Bluejays with 14 points. Zuercher added 11. Tena Loewen grabbed 12 rebounds to add to her nine points.

Tabor will await the winner of St. Francis (Ill.) and Asbury (Ky.). The Bluejays will next be in action Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Sioux City, Iowa.

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