The Tabor College men couldn?t find their wings or their wins this week, going 0-2 to begin conference play with losses to Southwestern and McPherson.
?It has been a tough couple of weeks and we haven?t lost a game by more than nine points all year,? said coach Micah Ratzlaff. ?We need to turn this thing around and I believe this group can do it.?
McPherson?The Bluejays fell to McPherson in the last minutes of the game?Saturday, 75-69.
?I thought our intensity from beginning to end was where it needed to be to give us a chance to win against a team like McPherson,? said coach Micah Ratzlaff. ?I thought we missed some opportunities in transition and struggled from the free-throw line on offense.?
He also said they didn?t protect the lane on the defensive end as much as they needed to.
Tabor started strong and maintained a lead early in the game, with the exception of a tie at 15:09. The Bulldogs took their first lead at 17-16 with 12:33 left in the first half.
A basket from Ryan Chippeaux put the Bluejays back on top, but McPherson regained the lead. Lawson Kingsley scored at 7:35 to bring Tabor within four, 27-23, before Joe Penn sank a three-pointer and knocked in a free throw to tie the game at 27-27.
But the Bulldogs put up nine unanswered points in the next couple minutes for a 36-27 lead. David Loewen finally snapped the scoring drought for the Bluejays and Chippeaux found the basket with one minute left to bring Tabor within 36-31 at the break.
Despite Kingsley and Penn combining for 12 points on four three-pointers, the Bluejays struggled to keep up with a high-powered McPherson offense and never regained the lead.
At the 10:45 mark, McPherson led by as many as eight points, 54-46, but the Bluejays rallied in the last five minutes to keep the hope alive.
Penn hit a three-pointer at five minutes to bring Tabor to within 64-59. The Bulldogs sank two free throws, but Kingsley scored a layup off a steal to make it 67-62 with 1:26 left. McPherson found the basket twice more, but Penn hit another three-pointer to bring it back within five points.
With 12 seconds left, Phillip Jimenez snagged a steal and got the ball to Dylan Clark-Knaeble, who scored to bring Tabor to within 73-69.
But McPherson made both of its following free throws to make it 75-69, and the clock ran out on the Bluejays.
Penn scored 24 points to lead Tabor, including nine from beyond the arc. Kingsley added 18 points overall with three three-pointers.
Chippeaux chipped in nine points and led the defense with 11 rebounds before he fouled out late in the second half. Clark-Knaeble and Max Frise each pulled down nine rebounds.
McPherson and Tabor put up similar shooting percentages from the field and beyond the arc, with the Bulldogs at 42 percent overall and 28 percent from three, and the Bluejays at 41 percent overall and 22 percent from long distance.
McPherson won this game at the free-throw line, making 20 of 26 attempts in the second half, compared to Tabor?s nine of 15 attempts.
The Bulldogs out-rebounded Tabor, 45-35.
Southwestern?Tabor lost its conference opener Thurs?day, 77-70.
The Bluejays struggled in the first half, trailing by as much as 15 points, though they rallied to pull to within 37-36 by halftime. Tabor even took a two-point lead once in the second half, but couldn?t maintain it.
Joe Penn led the Bluejays, with 15 points. Ryan Chippeaux added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Dylan Clark-Knaeble contributed 12 points and nine rebounds and Max?Frise also added 11 points.
The Bluejays shot 48 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc.
?We got off to a tough start, but crawled our way back into the game down to be one at half,? said coach Micah Ratzlaff. ?The second half was decided by us not taking care of the ball. Too many turnovers late really hurt us, and there wasn?t enough time to catch up.
?I also thought Southwestern played extremely well and hit more big shots throughout the game.?
Coming?The Bluejays are scheduled to host Kansas Wesleyan Thursday at 8 p.m. before a road game at Ottawa Saturday at 5 p.m.