If basketball games were decided like Olympic figure skating–on
largely subjective estimates of the quality of a performance based on
aesthetics and degree of difficulty–the Tabor College women's
basketball team would have defeated Kansas Wesleyan by considerably
more than five points, 52-47, Wednesday night in Hillsboro. But even in
that case, Stacie Herman would have earned a gold medal for her
game-breaking acrobatic 2-point pullup jumper with a hair more than
nothing left on the shot clock.
Herman's pivotal score came
with the Bluejays ahead 48-47 after their 32-21 halftime lead dried to
nothing with 1:39 left. Kayleen Dittmer tied the game for Kansas
Wesleyan with a pair of foul shots followed by a point-blank basket,
and the visiting Coyotes had all the momentum.
broke the tie with a foul shot with 1:16 remaining, and the Tabor
defense dialed up its intensity, forcing a shot clock violation with 45
seconds left. The Bluejays then used every last tick of their shot
clock, putting the ball in Herman's capable hands near the top of the
arc with some in the student section–composed mostly of band
members, cheerleaders and a few heavily-painted shirtless members of
the Tabor men's basketball squad–counting down from ten. Herman put
a move on, dribbling to her right and escaping one defender only to be
met by another. She pulled up as the crowd called out "one!" and threw a
fadeaway dagger from perhaps 14 feet out on the right wing side, making
it 50-47 just ahead of the buzzer.
The Coyotes, forced to fire
up a 3-pointer, were unable to find the mark and lost the ball out of
bounds to Tabor with 3 seconds to go. Herman was whacked on the
inbounds and rendered the rest of the contest moot with a pair of foul
Herman may have been the only Bluejay with ice water
running in her veins, as the team scored only one other field goal in
the final 10:47 of the game. But in the first half, Tabor as a team
shot a sizzling 14-for-27 from the field and made four of eight
3-pointers in the process.
Kirsten Watson put back-to-back
triples on the board to end the first frame, and Tabor finished on a
12-4 run. The stretch of strong play continued into the second half,
resulting in a 12-point Bluejay lead with 10:47 left. Herman nailed a
3-pointer after tracking down back-to-back offensive rebounds on
Tabor's possession at 12:42. Crosson then scored back-to-back field
goals?one a layup set up by Watson, the other a jumper set up by
Chelsea Malone?and made it a 7-1 run in Tabor's favor.
Shortly thereafter, Herman
went to the bench with her third foul?a mild bump on LaCole Wilkenson
at 11:18?and the Coyotes scored eight straight points in a 13-4 run.
Malone spotted up for a critical jumper from the center of the circle
above the lane with 6:02 left, blunting the 8-0 stretch and preserving
the lead Tabor had grabbed 5:33 into the game.
Herman led all scorers with 19 points.
Tabor will travel to Sterling Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest that
will determine one of the berths in the conference final. Sterling is
the tournament's top seed and holds home court advantage throughout. If
the Bluejays advance to the championship by defeating the Warriors, the
final will be played 7 p.m. Monday at either McPherson College or
Southewestern College in Winfield.