Bluejays split two KCAC contests

Deanna Manning shoots for two during the first half against Friends Thursday. Tabor suffered its first KCAC loss to the Falcons by a 78-74 score.
Deanna Manning shoots for two during the first half against Friends Thursday. Tabor suffered its first KCAC loss to the Falcons by a 78-74 score.
The Tabor College women’s basketball team split two KCAC games last week to move to 4-1 in conference play, 7-3 overall.

Saint Mary—Tabor rebounded from Thursday’s loss to Friends by defeating the Spires, 69-63, Saturday.

“This is a very tough place to play,” coach Shawn Reed said in a KCAC broadcast interview. “It’s loud in here, and they’re pressuring you the whole time. We had 18 turnovers, which is a few too many, but we had 31 the other night against Friends, so that looked pretty good compared to that.”

Five Bluejays scored in double figures as Tabor shot 44 percent from the field (24-for-54), including 50 percent from three (10-20).

Tabor scored the game’s first four points, but the Spires scored seven in a row to take the lead. From there, though, the Bluejays outscored Saint Mary, 7-2 to end the quarter with an 11-9 lead. Jurnee Reid scored the period’s final four points.

Saint Mary tied the game at 13, then Amber Bonham drained a trey and Reid scored a two-pointer. Kaleigh Troxell and Taylor Deniston drained threes in the final 1:19, contributing to a 24-19 Bluejay lead at halftime.

After Saint Mary drew within 26-23, Tabor went on a 6-0 run, thanks to baskets by Deniston, Reid and Tristen Leiszler. Leiszler later made the first of two three-pointers in the quarter to give Tabor its first double-digit lead, 35-25, then Bonham scored Tabor’s next four points. Leiszler drained another trey at the 3:36 mark, as did Troxell with 1:58 to play. The Bluejays took a 49-41 lead into the final quarter.

Tabor enjoyed its largest lead of the night, 55-42, when Bonham made a three-pointer. But Saint Mary would not go quietly. With Tabor in front, 64-54 with 43 seconds to go, the Spires went on a 9-3 run to trim the margin to four. Deniston made two free-throws to bring it to the final, six-point spread.

Reid led the Bluejays with 13 points. Troxell scored 12, Leiszler 11, and Deniston and Bonham each scored 10.

“We shot it well from the three-point line,” Reed said. “That really helped us tonight. If we wouldn’t have made some of those shots, the outcome could’ve been different.”

Friends—Turnovers proved costly for the Tabor women, who suffered their first conference loss by a 78-74 margin Thursday.

The Bluejays shot the ball well, making 54 percent of their attempts from the field (27-for-50). Friends, meanwhile, shot around 47 percent (29-for-62). However, Tabor committed 31 turnovers, which led to 37 points for the Falcons.

Tabor started the game on fire, offensively, rattling off a string of nine points to stake a 9-2 lead. Taylor Deniston made the first of her three three-pointers during that stretch. She made her second one a minute and a half later and drained her third trey at the 4:54 mark. Tristen Leiszler joined in with a pair of threes as well.

By the time Amber Bonham made a two-pointer, Tabor held a 25-8 lead, its largest of the night. Friends scored with 30 seconds left, making it 25-10 at the first break.

But the Falcons would not go away, outscoring Tabor 25-18 in the second quarter to close the gap to single digits by halftime, 43-35. Friends scored 12 of its second-quarter points off eight Bluejay turnovers.

Turnovers continued to plague Tabor in the third quarter. The Bluejays committed nine of them, which translated into 11 Falcon points. In the final 1:50, Tabor turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions. Friends scored the final eight points of the period, closing the gap to 58-56 by the end of it.

Friends took its first lead since 2-0 with 4:38 left in the game, 71-70. Deniston made a two-pointer to put Tabor back in front, but from there Friends went on a 7-2 run to claim the win.

The game’s high scorer, Shann Sellers, scored 16 of her 37 points off Tabor turnovers. She had eight steals.

Meanwhile, Deniston led Tabor’s scoring effort with 21 points. Kaleigh Troxell added 13.

“We couldn’t take care of the basketball,” coach Shawn Reed said. “We shot 50 percent from the floor, but we just made terrible passes, and we weren’t strong with the ball. People didn’t come to the basketball. We worked on all those things, but we didn’t do it. That’s my fault, and I’ve got to get us ready to play.”

Coming—Tabor will host McPherson (3-2, 7-3) Thursday at 6 p.m. and will travel to Ottawa (4-1, 7-4) Saturday for a 3 p.m. contest.