After a 75-57 loss at Sterling Thursday, the Tabor College women?s basketball team came within a point of its first conference victory of the season Saturday against Bethel.
On the strength of Gina Hullet’s 22 points, Tabor overcame a 12-point deficit to take a short-lived lead 10 seconds left. But Hannah Blackburn, scorer of 17, countered Andrea Robinson’s late free throw with two of her own to give Bethel a 54-53 win.
Hullet scored 16 points in the second half but none under greater pressure than the tying basket, which came in the wake of a Threshers backcourt violation. When Bethel committed a turnover on the subsequent possession, the pressure evidently cracked Angela Wood, who inexplicably hacked Robinson 60 feet from the Bluejays basket with the score knotted at 52.
Blackburn bailed her teammate out by attacking the basket and drawing a foul?just as she had done throughout.
The Bluejays led for most of the first 10 minutes, thanks to three straight field goals over the course of one minute. Hullet scored Tabor?s first basket off an assist from Stephanie Silvas, then assisted on Silvas? first basket. But Hullet picked up two quick fouls and played less than seven minutes in the first half.
After Bethel pulled ahead on a basket by Jessica Muckenthaler, Hullet returned to score one field goal and assist on another before the break.
Hullet was not the only Bluejay in foul trouble early: MacKenzie Dick (2), Andrea Robinson (2) and Molly Dick (3) each drew multiple whistles while Bethel attempted 16 free throws before the break.
Muckenthaler scored 14 points in the first half and finished with 18 for Bethel; apart from Hullet no Bluejay finished with more than six points. Tabor was outscored 19-9 at the foul line.
Sterling?Cathryn Wiebe helped the Warriors make an early statement, both to the Bluejays and to the rest of the conference: Sterling is prepared to defend its high ranking. Not that there was ever a doubt.
The Warriors were picked first in the KCAC by the conference coaches and media, and were rated 13th nationally in the preseason. Behind 17 points from Wiebe, who was named ?player of the week,? Sterling opened up a 38-25 halftime lead.
After MacKenzie Dick gave Tabor a 6-5 lead, the Warriors put together a 7-2 run to seize control. Then the Warriors launched a 17-0 run that left the Bluejays mired on 15 for just over five minutes. For all practical purposes, the contest was over with 5:08 left in the first half.
Beginning with Dick knocking down a 3-pointer that ended the scoring drought, Tabor scored six of the next seven points. The Bluejays closed within 35-24 on a field goal by Vivian Olvera, but needed to cut Sterling’s lead into single digits before halftime.
After Gina Hullet’s basket starting the second half trimmed the Warriors lead back to 11, 38-27, Sterling restored its edge to 17 with a 3-pointer by Madison Lucas. The Warriors? lead hit 18 on a steal-and-score layup by Wiebe and grew to 20, 65-45, on Wiebe’s 3-pointer. It reached as much as 23.
Dick finished with 16 points, Tynan Honn totaled 15, and Hullet finished with 10.
Coming?Tabor (1-8, 0-2 KCAC) will host McPherson Thursday and Ottawa on Saturday.