Tabor exits KCAC tourney early

DeShun Patterson splits two Southwestern defenders during the second half of Saturday’s semifinal game. Patterson scored eight points in Tabor’s 93-88 loss. Janae Rempel / Free PressThe Tabor College men’s basketball team made an early exit from the KCAC tournament with a semifinal loss to Southwestern Saturday, 93-88.

The Moundbuilders shot lights out all afternoon, foreshadowing what was to come by making 10 of their first 11 attempts from the field (91 percent) to stake a 24-17 lead after Tabor had claimed it at 17-13.

DeShun Patterson made a three-pointer after that to ignite a 9-2 Bluejay run that tied the game at 26, but although the game was tied twice more after that, Tabor never re-established a lead before halftime. The ‘Builders drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer for a 45-41 lead at intermission, having made 69 percent of their attempts from the field (18-for-26).

Tabor outscored the visitors 14-5 in the first four minutes of the second half. Alan Urrutia capped the run with a three-pointer that put Tabor in front by five, 55-50.

When Lance Carter, Tullio Parry and Cody May each scored from beyond the arc in a 1:35 span, Tabor held its largest lead of the game, 68-61. Tabor still led by seven, 75-68, when Carter made a three at the 9:24 mark. But Tabor missed its next four attempts and turned the ball over once, and Southwestern used a 7-0 run to tie the game.

Patterson completed a traditional three-point play to put Tabor in front by three, 78-75, and the game was tied four times after that. Carter broke an 84-84 tie with a dunk assisted by Julian Winton, then Southwestern scored, making it 86 all with 2:08 to play.

After a ‘Builder three-pointer, Winton made two free-throws, bringing Tabor within 89-88 with 1:03 to go, but those were Tabor’s final points of the contest, as the Bluejays missed their final six attempts.

Trailing 91-88, Tabor was called for a traveling violation. A ‘Builder turnover followed, but after a Bluejay miss, Tabor was called for a foul, sending the ‘Builders to the charity stripe. Two free-throws brought it to the final spread with 9 seconds to go. The Bluejays missed two three-point attempts in the final six seconds.

“I was more than pleased with our effort,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “I felt like we played to win, and I just wish the players could’ve decided it.”

Asked what his message to the team was following the game, Ratzlaff said:

“I told them I was sorry that they didn’t get a chance to actually play the right way and try to finish a game. It’s too bad. We all know we’re going to nationals, but it still hurts because it was a good game.”

Southwestern shot 65 percent from the field (35-for-54), while Tabor made 45 percent of its attempts (31-for-69).

Carter had a double-double performance with 27 points and 10 assists. Winton scored 20 points.

Tabor 92, Okla. Wesleyan 91

KCAC Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Tabor held on down the stretch to earn an overtime victory to open the KCAC tournament.

The teams had faced each other four days prior, with Tabor earning a 94-67 win. This time, however, the game was highly contested.

Between the two teams, 69 three-point attempts were taken. Tabor made 14 of its 33 attempts from beyond the arc, led by Alan Urrutia who was 5-for-6 from three-point range. Urrutia’s fifth three-pointer with 16:35 left in regulation gave Tabor a 50-48 edge, its first lead since 11-10.

The Eagles won the battle on the glass in the first half, outrebounding Tabor, 19-14. Tabor also committed more turnovers: 12 to Oklahoma Wesleyan’s seven. Although the Bluejays made 56 percent of their first-half attempts (15-for-27), the Eagles attempted 11 more shots and recorded 50-percent accuracy in the half (19-for-38).

Those factors contributed to a 46-42 Oklahoma Wesleyan lead at intermission, despite the fact that Tabor had jumped to a five-point lead early, 11-6. A 9-0 Eagle run put the visitors ahead by four, and Oklahoma Wesleyan maintained its lead the rest of the first half, leading by as many as 28-17 at the 8:30 mark.

Tabor stayed in the game by making nine of 16 three-point attempts in the first half, including seven in nine attempts in the final 7:31.

The Bluejays outscored the Eagles 10-2 to start the second half to lead, 52-48, and Tabor led by as many as 59-54 before a 6-0 Eagle run once again left the Bluejays trailing. Again Tabor built a five-point lead, only to have Oklahoma Wesleyan regain a slight advantage.

The Eagles led by two, 77-75, with 2:29 to play, and the teams locked heads at 79 with 48 seconds left in regulation. Tullio Parry made one of two free-throws, then the Eagles turned the ball over and fouled, sending Lance Carter to the line. He made both attempts to put Tabor in front, 82-79, with 10 seconds to play. However, a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Breiman Alexander sent the game into overtime.

With Tabor behind, 88-87, Julian Winton scored to ignite a 5-0 run that put Tabor in front, 92-88, with 20 seconds to go. Alexander made a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to bring the Eagles within 92-91, then Tabor turned it over, giving Alexander a shot at a game-winning three, but the attempt missed its mark.

“We shot the ball extremely well from the three,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “It’s the only thing that kept us in it. We usually don’t shoot that many threes.

“Defensively, every loose ball was theirs. Every time they shot it, they got a second chance. We just had a really hard time guarding them for whatever reason.”

Winton led the Bluejay scoring effort with 24 points. Carter scored 22 and had 11 rebounds. Urrutia scored 15 points and Parry 10.

Coming—Tabor will turn its attention to the NAIA Division II national championship March 8-14 in Point Lookout, Mo.

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