Is it better to play rivals or Friends?
Last week the Tabor College men defeated their traditional rivals, Bethel College, 101-96, in overtime Wednesday on the road. On Saturday, the Bluejays faded in the second half in a 76-64 loss to Friends University at home.
Coming off the emotional win at North Newton on Wednesdays, the Bluejays took on the second-place Falcons with an opportunity to make a statement to themselves and their fans.
Tabor led briefly at 5-4 early in the game, and then tied the game at 21 at the 9:22 mark of the first half, only to see the Falcons launch a 17-3 run that put the Falcons on top, 38-24, with 4:47 left in the half.
The Falcons lost some of their altitude as the clock wound down toward halftime. When Tabor’s Jon Beristain hit back-to-back baskets in the paint around the 1:00 mark, the Bluejays were back to within four points by intermission, 40-36.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Tabor stayed close, and even pulled ahead briefly, 45-44, on a 3-pointer from Julian Winton at the 16:04 mark.
Tabor enjoyed its last lead of the game, 48-47, when Jordan Horstick nailed a 3-point basket from the corner with 12:32 left.
After that promising start, the Bluejays went without a field goal for the next 6:10. By the time DeShun Patterson scored in the lane, Tabor was trailing, 62-52. The margin between the two teams continued about the same down the stretch until reaching the final score of 76-64.
Two Bluejays reached double-digit scoring, Winton led with 24 points and Beristain added 10. Friends had four players in double figures, led by Jordan Murdock with 24.
As a team, Tabor shot 40 percent (25-62) from the field while Friends shot 45 percent (28-62). Tabor was out-rebounded, 42-32 in total and 30-23 on the defensive end. With the win, the Falcons improved to 11-5 in the KCAC and 13-10 overall, while Tabor slipped to 9-7 and 10-12. The Bluejays have lost four of the last five games.
Bethel—Tabor burst out of the gate with a 10-3 lead after 4 minutes of play. The Bluejays defended their advantage before Chase Bannister scored eight unanswered points in less than two minutes to put Bethel on top 29-27 with 5:29 left in the first half.
The Bethel sharpshooter poured in nine more points to build Bethel’s lead to 44-33 with 2:15 left in the half. Tabor rallied with eight straight points to trail by only 44-41 at intermission.
Bannister scored 28 points in the first half on 9-for-12 shooting, including 6-for-9 from behind the arc.
When Tabor’s Jon Beristain tied the game at 51 four minutes into the second half, the game was essentially deadlocked thereafter, as both teams claimed and lost one- and two-point leads through the first 10 minutes of the half.
When Tabor’s scoring slowed midway through the half, Bethel built a 76-68 lead with 6:34 to play. The Threshers still led by eight, 80-72, with 4 minutes left in the game.
The Bluejays rallied to tie the game with 1:08 to go when Julian Winton stole the ball and scored on a drive into the lane. He was fouled, but missed the free bonus throw.
Bethel scored with 38.5 seconds left for an 87-85 lead. Winton drove the lane again, but missed the basket and a put-back attempt. But when Tabor regained the ball, Diontre Cutliff scored the tying basket with 28 seconds left. Bethel played for the last shot—but missed it as the buzzer sounded.
Four Bluejays contributed points in the extra period to secure the 101-96 victory.
Bethel’s Bannister was the scoring star with 40 points for the game. For Tabor, Winton quietly compiled 38 points to lead his team to a much-needed victory.
DeShun Patterson added 14 points, Cutliff 13, Alan Urrutia 12 and Gaven Schumann 11 as Tabor improved to 9-6 in the KCAC and 10-11 for the season. Bethel slipped to 4-11 and 6-16, respectively.
COMING—Tabor will travel to Leavenworth Wednesday to play the University of Saint Mary. On Saturday, Tabor will play Bethany College at Lindsborg.
For both road trips, the women will begin play at 5 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m.