Losses at Friends, KW drop Tabor to 1-3

The Tabor College women?s basketball team slid to 1-3 with a pair of conference losses this week. The Bluejays lost to Friends 58-52 on Saturday and fell short, 70-54, at Kansas Wesleyan Thursday.

?We are looking to build on the second half,? coach Shawn Winter said. ?We will learn from our mistakes and work extremely hard in practice to improve each area of our game.

?The conference season is long and we expect to be right in the mix toward the end of the year,? he said.

Friends?Kirsten Watson and Jordan Crosson scored 14 points apiece, but Tabor was not able to overcome a slow start.

?Our team needs to learn how to play with determination and a sense of urgency for 40 minutes,? Winter said. ?We came out lethargic in the first half, didn’t execute our system of play, and didn’t defend well.?

Tabor made just 7 of 30 field goal attempts in the first half, but caught fire after a technical foul was called against them midway through the second half.

The technical was whistled between two of Crosson’s foul shots, and Megan VinZant hit both freebies to make it 46-22 with 13:20 to go.

But immediately after that, the Bluejays did not allow a basket for 6-plus minutes and outscored the Falcons 18-0.

Freshman guard Amanda Payne ran the point for most of the run.

?Amanda has been giving us good minutes off the bench and continues to improve her game each day in practice,? Winter said. ?She plays very focused and determined and can really defend on the perimeter, and she will continue to play a significant role on our team.?

At 11:41, Watson scored a 3-pointer and Crosson followed with a layup-and-1.

Crosson hit a pair of free throws, then rejected Michelle Price, then scored a 2-pointer.

Watson hit two foul shots, then a 2-pointer, and VinZant went back to the line to end the Falcons scoring drought.

A Crosson layup assisted by Stephanie Silvas closed the gap to 48-42, and Tabor drew within three, 48-45, on another pair of free throws from Crosson with 6:02 remaining.

The Bluejays held on to make it interesting in the closing moments, but VinZant sealed it with foul shots.

Watson?s free throws pulled Tabor within 54-52 with 1:43 left, but VinZant answered with a pair at 1:28.

Vin Zant finished with 11 points.

Kansas Wesleyan?Tabor took a 13-10 lead 5:39 into the first half, but the Coyotes caught fire from the 3-point arc, scoring back-to-back triples by Kayleen Dittmer and LaCole Wilkenson 30 seconds apart to take over, 16-13.

?KWU is a legitimate top 20 team in the NAIA and are going to get even better with time,? Winter said. ?KWU is a very difficult team to come from behind against because of their senior leadership and ability to control and take care of the ball.?

Dittmer knocked down two more critical 3-point shots in the first half: one after Stephanie Silvas brought the Bluejays within 20-19, and another after Kirsten Watson and Gina Hullet combined to knot the score at 24-24 with 2:03 left.

?Our zone gave them some problems in the first half,? Winter said. ?In the second half they turned several of our turnovers into immediate points and pushed the lead out to double digits.?

Wilkenson’s shots off of Dittmer’s passes were the difference-makers.

Trailing 27-24 at the break, and having seen the Wesleyan lead grow to 33-26 on an early burst sparked by Dittmer, Andrea Robinson and Watson knocked down 3-pointers that kept Tabor in the game.

Robinson hit at 17:44 and Watson struck at 15:49. But each time, Wilkenson answered off an assist from Dittmer: with a layup at 17:02 and with a trey at 14:35.

When Tabor’s scoring dried up, Dittmer led the Coyotes out to a 15-point lead, scoring back-to-back 2-pointers that bracketed a free throw by Sarah Wyckoff. She finished a layup-and-1 for a 52-37 KW lead with 9:00 to go.

By the time Watson jolted the Tabor offense back to life with a 3-pointer at 7:06, the Bluejays were in a 16-point hole.

Jordan Crosson followed with a layup-and-1 at 5:23, and Silvas cut it to 11, 57-46, with 4:07 left.

But Wilkenson drained another 3-pointer just 18 seconds later, and put the game on ice with another that made it 67-47 with 56 seconds left in the game.

Watson led Tabor with 15 points, but Dittmer had 25 points and 5 assists, and Wilkenson scored 22.

Jennie Vopat led the Coyotes to a 44-32 rebounding advantage with 18 boards?9 offensive?and blocked three shots.

Coming?Tabor hosts Hastings at 6 p.m. Saturday for its final game before the winter break. The Bluejays return to the court Jan. 2-3, hosting their annual Tabor Classic.

Sterling, Ecclesia, and Benedictine are all taking part. Tabor plays Benedictine at 6 p.m. Friday and meets Ecclesia at 5 p.m. Saturday. Sterling plays at 2 p.m. Friday at at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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