Tabor was pounded in the first half at Ottawa Thursday, trailing 40-28 at intermission and falling by a final score of 88-73.
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|Kyle de Blonk blows past Alwyn Jordan on a dribble-drive in Winfield Saturday. De Blonk and the Bluejays had a tough night, as Jordan?s 18 points keyed Southwestern?s 76-58 win.? Andrew Ottoson / Free Press|
With Aaron Whitelaw still sidelined after Thursday?s contest at Ottawa, the Bluejays were playing shorthanded from the outset.
Kyle de Blonk started in Whitelaw?s stead and during the first 10 minutes of play, before the Moundbuilders superior experience and depth became significant factors, the Bluejays more than held their own on the home floor of the team picked nearly unanimously to win the conference by both coaches and media in preseason polling.
Jared Hett got the Bluejays out of the gate with a jumper, and helped propel Tabor to leads of 2-0, 10-6, 13-9 and 17-14.
Two technical fouls also helped Tabor?s cause. The first was called on the Moundbuilder bench at 13:01 and the second was whistled against Trey Merrifield 15 seconds later.
Merrifield ran over Kyle Kroeker at the end of a fast break and both players went down hard amid a crowd of Tabor cheerleaders. Kroeker was initially called for the foul, but Merrifield lost his temper, was restrained by teammates and ended up kicking the ball down a hallway.
Jordan Funk made both shots after the first technical and tallied another point at the line after Merrifield?s tantrum finally subsided.
Despite the distractions, Southwestern?s second wave, led by Chris Bossio and Alwyn Jordan, put together a 17-2 run over the next 5:25.
Bossio opened up the floodgates with a game-tying 3-pointer with 10:00 left in the first half and drained another at 8:10.
Hett scored a 2-pointer at 7:05 and Jordan answered with a 3-point shot at 6:04. Jordan scored the last points of the run with 5:24 left in the first half.
The Moundbuilders pushed their lead to as much as 21 points before the half ended.
Andrew Schroeter came off the bench late in the first half and provided a boost with 12 minutes of solid play, helping Tabor cut a 42-22 deficit with 2:51 left in the first period to 46-37 3:16 into the second.
An 8-0 Tabor run out of the gate after intermission was capped by Zach Vanselow, who finished off a precise lob pass from Schroeter with 16:44 left in the game.
After baskets by Merrifield and Jordan, Schroeter buried a pair of foul shots and Kyle Kroeker scored a 2-pointer early in the second to trim the shortfall to 50-41.
But led by Jordan, who nailed a 3-pointer after Kroeker?s make, the multitude of sharpshooting Moundbuilders ran their lead back to 20 points.
Orson Thomas led the Bluejays with 13 points and Funk scored 11.
Southwestern is 9-7 overall and 4-2 in conference play.
Ottawa?The Braves carried a 12-point lead into the intermission and went on to win by a final score of 88-73.
Ottawa was led by 24 points from David Birch. Four others finished in double figures: Matt Green, Phil McClintock and Clint Bones threw in 14 apiece and Marquis Washington scored 10.
Tabor hung tough in the second half, scoring 45 points. Mike Rousell led the Bluejays with 13 points, followed by 12 from Orson Thomas, 11 from Zach Vanselow and 9 by Jared Hett.
Aaron Whitelaw was limited to 3 points in 13 minutes of action.
Coming?Tabor (5-10 overall, 2-3 conference) made up the postponed Dec. 8 contest against Friends (7-7, 3-2). Tabor will face Bethel (5-10, 2-4) at 8 p.m. Thursday in Hillsboro. The Bluejays travel to Sterling (9-6, 4-1) to play at 7 p.m. Saturday.
With only one conference loss on its record, Sterling entered the week tied with Kansas Wesleyan (6-8, 4-1) and Ottawa (11-4, 4-1) for first place in the KCAC. Bethel, in eighth place, is a half-game behind Tabor in the standings.