The Tabor College women are no longer undefeated in the KCAC. Bethany, who came in with a 3-3 record in conference play, caught the Bluejays on an off night and pulled off a 51-50 upset in Hillsboro.
The Tabor men, meanwhile, had no such problem with the Swedes. The Bluejays took a 45-38 halftime lead and pushed the pedal to floor for a 98-65 victory.
WOMEN—Tabor struggled from the start, missing their first four shots from the field before Sammy Jo Peterson hit a pair of free throws at the 7:14 mark of the first quarter. The Bluejays made only four of 13 shots, but it was enough for a 14-11 lead as the first quarter ended.
By halftime, Tabor seemed to be in control of the contest even as its shooting struggle continued. When Kelsey Unruh hit a pair of free throws with 1:42 left in the first half, Tabor enjoyed its first double-digit lead at 27-16. Bethany rallied with a 6-2 surge to cut Tabor’s halftime lead to 29-22.
As the third quarter began, it appeared Tabor was getting its act together with a 9-2 run for a 38-24 lead after the first 5:25 of the third quarter. Tabor still held an 11-point lead when the quarter ended at 43-32.
The fourth quarter was a struggle. Bethany outscored the Bluejays 6-0 to cut the lead to five points. With Tabor leading 49-42 with only four minutes to play, the game suddenly turned.
The Swedes finished the game with a 9-1 surge down the stretch, including a basket by Bethany’s Lauren Welsch with 1:11 left to give the Swedes their first lead since they scored the very first basket of the game.
Tabor had plenty of time to pull the game out of the fire, but could not find a way to score. With 23.5 seconds left, Tabor’s top scorer Morgan Ediger hurt her wrist as she hit the floor after blocking a Bethany shot in the lane. Ediger stayed in the game, but her shot at the buzzer missed the mark.
Ediger and Leiszler both contributed 13 points to lead Tabor, who shot 35 percent (17-48) from the floor. Welsch was Bethany’s star for the game, leading all scorers with 16 points.
The loss leaves Tabor with a 6-1 conference record (8-3 overall), and in second place behind Friends at 7-1 (9-4). Bethany improved to 4-3 and 8-6.
MEN—Tabor got off to a solid start when Jordan Horstick hit a 3-pointer to begin the scoring, but Bethany kept pace. With Tabor leading 15-12 at the 13:47 mark, Kyle Baker hit a 2-point basket and back-to-back 3-pointers over a 42 second stretch to give Tabor a 23-14 lead.
Tabor was leading 45-30 and appeared to be gliding into a comfortable halftime lead, but Bethany got a 2-point basket by Michael Simpson and 3-point baskets by Isiah Saenz and Thomas Hood in final 77 seconds to cut the lead to seven, 45-38.
In the second half, Tabor regained its double-digit lead when DeShun Patterson hit a 3-pointer to put Tabor ahead, 50-40, with 17:31 to play. After Bethany scored twice, the Bluejays went on a 14-8 surge over a 3:17 stretch for a 64-48 lead.
Tabor took command of the game from that point one, outscoring the Swedes 34-17 down the home stretch to complete the 33-point margin of victory.
Julian Winton led Tabor with 21 points, Horstick tossed in 16 and Baker added 11. As a team, Tabor shot 55 percent (18-39) from the floor while Bethany made 34 percent (11-30) of its shots. The Bluejays made 14 of 24 3-point shots (58 percent) while Bethany made only seven of 33 shots (21 percent) from behind the arc.
With the win, Tabor moves into a four-way tie for second place in the KCAC with Kansas Wesleyan, Saint Mary and Ottawa at 5-2, and the Bluejays improved their season record to 6-5. Meanwhile, Bethany dropped to 2-5 and 5-9.
COMING—Tabor will complete its pre-Christmas schedule Dec. 12 when the Bluejays host Sterling. The women will tip off at 6 p.m. and the men around 8 p.m.