The Tabor College men trailed Ottawa 33-18 midway through the first half, but pulled within one point by halftime, then dominated play late in the second half on the way to a 100-79 victory to end the regular season.
The way Ottawa was hitting 3-point baskets as the game began, Tabor appeared to be headed for trouble. Ottawa got off to a 12-5 start less than 3 minutes into the contest. About halfway through the first half, the lead was 13 at 31-18.
“Ottawa is, physically, one of the most impressive teams that I’ve ever seen in our conference,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “I just told the guys keep playing, keep playing. Things do change with (Ottawa) when things don’t always go well.”
When Julian Winton nailed a 3-point basket from the corner, it ignited a quick 10-point Tabor burst within a minute and a half. DeShun Patterson hit one 2-point and two 3-point baskets in succession.
The game continued in a give-and-take scoring mode between five- and seven-point spreads. But Tabor ended the half a 9-3 run that closed the gap to 47-46 by intermission.
The second-half margin between the two teams remained razor close. But with Tabor trailing Ottawa, 70-69, with 7:45 to play, Michael Russell came off the Tabor bench for a deep 3-point basket with 7:30 to play.
Alan Urrutia followed with a 2-pointer that opened the scoring gates for Tabor with a 26-9 charge to the end of the game.
Five Bluejays finished with double digits: Winton led with 24 points, Urrutia added 16, Patterson 15, Diontre Cutliff 13 and Gaven Schumann 10.
Both teams shot right at 47 percent for the game. Tabor had one more 3-point basket than Ottawa (11 to 10), but the Bluejays’ biggest advantage was at the free-throw line. The home team made 19 of 24 attempts while Ottawa made 11 of 19.
Another key statistic was turnovers. Tabor committed only 10 while Ottawa gave away 21 possessions.
“We were in the passing lanes, we were tipping basketballs, we were getting easy baskets,” Ratzlaff said. “We actually shot the ball well tonight.
“It’s sad, but just now in the last couple of weeks they just now are starting to enjoy it,” he added. “But better late than never.”
The win improved Tabor’s KCAC record to 13-9 and a three-way tie for fifth place. Tabor’s overall record improved to 14-14.
Kansas Wesleyan—Tabor let a 15-point second-half lead slip through its fingers as the hometown Coyotes claimed an 80-75 win at Mabee Arena in Salina.
The Bluejays had established a 40-34 lead by halftime, and began to build upon it as the second half began. Tabor’s 12-3 surge put the Bluejays in charge at 52-37 when Alan Urrutia’s nailed 3-pointer at 15:32.
But the momentum turned around when KWU launched a 17-3 run midway through the half gave KWU a 67-63 lead with 4:52 left.
Tabor rallied for a 70-69 lead with 2:52 left when Julian Winton hit a three. The Coyotes scored seven of the next 10 points for a 76-73 lead with 21 seconds left before Winton hit a 2-point shot with 13.8 seconds remaining to draw within one point.
Following a Tabor timeout, Wesleyan’s Darius Hammond hit a pair of free throws to push the margin to 78-75. DeShun Patterson’s 3-point shot to tie the game in the final seconds missed the mark. Instead, Nathan Leach was fouled on the rebound and made both free throws to cap the final score at 80-75.
Winton led all scorers with 33 points, hitting nine of 16 shots from the field, including five of six 3-point attempts. He also made 10 of his 13 free throws. Patterson finished with 16 points and Gaven Schumann 13.
KWU had four players in double figures, led by Leach with 16.
As a team, Tabor shot 43 percent (24-56) from the floor, including seven of 20 attempts from behind the arc.
Wesleyan shot 47 percent (27-57), but made only two of 14 attempts from three.
The loss dropped Tabor to 12-9 in the KCAC and 13-14 overall. KWU improved to 14-7 and 16-11.
Wesleyan’s win broke a seven-game losing steak against Tabor, and gave second-year Coyote coach Anthony Monson his first win over Tabor, where he had been an assistant coach for several years.
Coming—Tabor will head to Bartlesville, Okla., Thursday to face the Eagles of Oklahoma Wesleyan in a first-round tournament game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The two teams split the regular season series, with each winning on their home floor.