Tabor men defeat No. 21 Friends

Robbie Samuel scores two points early in Tabor?s game at Friends Wednesday. Samuel contributed 13 points in Tabor?s 78-74 win.The Tabor men started the second half of KCAC play with a loss to Kansas Wesleyan Saturday after defeating Friends earlier in the week.

Kansas Wesleyan?Tabor hung with the Coyotes the majority of the first half Saturday before falling behind by double-figures in the second half and losing, 92-72, in the end.

Lance Carter made the game?s first basket, but the Coyotes scored twice to take a 4-2 lead. Dewayne Biggs tied the game at 4, and Andrew Thomas added a free throw and a basket to give Tabor a 7-4 lead.

The Bluejays used a 7-2 run to build a 14-6 lead after JT Nemit made a three-pointer at 12:58.

Kansas Wesleyan cut Tabor?s lead to 14-11 before Nemit cashed in two free throws.

The teams traded baskets until the Coyotes tied the game at 20. Robbie Samuel scored a basket that gave Tabor its final lead, 22-20, and although the score was tied twice after that, Tabor could not regain the lead.

Twice Tabor drew within one of the Coyotes, the final time being 35-34, when Biggs scored at 1:54. Kansas Wesleyan then outscored Tabor 9-2 with three three-pointers to end the half with a 44-36 lead.

Back-to-back Coyote three-pointers to open the second half sealed a double-digit Kansas Wesleyan lead the rest of the way.

Nick Sauer drained a three-pointer and Samuel followed with a basket for a 56-43 score, but four Coyote three-pointers in a span of 3:17 left Tabor trailing, 68-45.

The closest Tabor got after that was within 18 points, and the Coyotes led by 20 when time expired.

The Coyotes shot 72.7 percent from behind the arc in the second half (8-11) for a total of 53.8 percent for the game (14-26).

Dewayne Biggs led Tabor with 17 points. Andrew Thomas added 13.

Friends?After leading by 18 in the second half, the Tabor men weathered a Friends rally and hung on for a four-point, 78-74, win on the road Wednesday against a 21st-ranked Falcons team featuring the top scorer in the NAIA Division II.

Friends guard Joe Mitchell has averaged 33.29 points per game over 21 games this season and also leads the NAIA Division II in total scoring with 699 points.

But despite a 36-point night from Mitchell, Tabor walked out of Garvey Gymnasium with a win.

?I thought the defensive intensity was by far the best thing all night,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?Our offense kind of played off of that.?

Tabor limited Mitchell to eight points in the first half.

?We couldn?t just game-plan for Joe Mitchell because their team is really good,? Ratzlaff said. ?(Mitchell) can score it from anywhere, and then the rest of the team really, really shoots it.?

The teams remained within four points of each other for more than eight minutes to start the game. With the teams locked at 14, Nick Sauer drained a three-pointer to ignite a 9-0 Bluejay surge.

The Falcons narrowed the gap to 26-22 at 6:25 before Jonathan Gibson made back-to-back baskets. After a D?Marco Smith free throw and a second-chance basket by Gibson, Tabor?s lead was back to double digits, 33-22, with 4:28 left in the half. The Bluejays enjoyed a 37-28 halftime advantage.

Tabor built its lead to a game-high 58-40 when David Loewen made a basket with 12:35 to go. But the Falcons answered with a three-pointer and a dunk that turned into a three-point play when Tabor was called for a foul. Biggs made two free throws when Friends was charged with a technical foul after the dunk, and Tabor?s lead was back to 16, 62-46, after a Lance Carter basket at 11:20.

But Friends continued to chip away, outscoring Tabor 14-4 over the next 3:23 to draw within 66-60.

Three consecutive Bluejay scores pushed Tabor?s lead to 71-60, but the Falcons would not roll over, and Friends narrowed the gap to 75-70 with 2:30 to play.

Each team managed one free throw in the next two minutes, then both Carter and Robbie Samuel cashed in a free-throw to increase Tabor?s lead to 78-71 with 13.7 seconds left.

The Falcons made a three-pointer with 6.5 seconds left and grabbed the Tabor inbounds pass, but the Falcon three-point attempt missed its mark.

?(Friends) started making some runs in the second half and so I used three or four (timeouts) to just try to mess with their rhythm, get us refocused, re-energize whoever?s playing, give them a rest. And it worked, I thought,? Ratzlaff said. ?We contested really well.

Thomas led Tabor with 21 points. Biggs added 14 and Samuel 13.

The win was Ratzlaff?s 100th of his Tabor coaching career.

Coming?Tabor (6-4, 13-8) will host Bethany (8-2, 15-6)?Wednesday at 8 p.m. and will travel to Bethel (0-10, 0-19) Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest. Bethany was receiving votes in the latest Coaches? Top 25 poll.

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