The Tabor College men surged to a double-digit lead to start the second half, then held off a late rally by Haskell Indian Nations University to post a 78-67 win in Saturday?s Tabor Classic finale in Hillsboro.
The victory avenged a 68-54 Haskell win Nov. 13.
The Bluejays trailed the Indians for most of the first half. But a 3-pointer by Cody Arnold at the 6:15 mark gave the host team its first lead at 28-26.
The Indians rallied to step back in front by six with 4:06 left, but the Bluejays? defense shut out the visitors the rest of the way while baskets by Rob Moore, Kyle Kroeker and Damon Dechant pulled Tabor into a 35-35 tie at the break.
The Jays? run continued in the early minutes of the second half, led by Kroeker, who scored nine unanswered points out of the gate. The surge grew to 17-3 through the first five minutes.
Tabor maintained a lead in that neighborhood for most of the second half, and were leading 64-48 when Haskell?s Marcellous Hill hit a 3-pointer at the 5:01 mark. That basket ignited an Indian rally that brought them as close as 71-67 when Tyler Cooper drained a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left.
But Tabor?s Damon Dechant, who had missed a one-and-one opportunity with 1:00 to go, drained a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left. Tabor then finished the 7-0 run to nail down the win.
The difference in this game was Tabor?s defense, which led to 43 points off 35 Haskell turnovers?19 in the second half?while the Indians managed only four points off Tabor?s 18 turnovers.
Kroeker finished with 23 points to pace Tabor (5-11), with Dechant adding 15 and Daniel Hann contributing 13 points off the bench with 6-for-6 shooting from the field.
The Bluejays were actually outrebounded by the Indians, 49-34, led by DJ Fish with 12. Jimmy Wilkett led three double-digit scorers for Haskell with 14 points.
Lindenwood?Tabor kept pace with a talented Linden?wood University team for about 11 minutes of the first half before the visiting Lions put the hammer down with a 28-7 burst over the final nine minutes en route to 68-43 victory on New Year?s Day.
The Bluejays trailed 38-15 at intermission, and fell behind by as many as 26 points three minutes into the second half. Tabor battled back to as close as 16 points when Cody Arnold nailed a 3-pointer with 11:52 to play to make the score 45-29.
But Lindenwood reasserted itself and kept its lead above 20 most of the rest of the way.
The visitors outshot the host team 44 percent to 29 percent on about the same number of field-goal attempts. But the game turned on rebounding, with the Lions holding a huge 56-24 advantage.
Richard Rose led a trio of Lions in double figures, finishing with a game-high 19. For Tabor, Arnold and Damon Dechant led with 11 points each.
Coming?Tabor (2-2, 5-8) has a chance to advance in conference play this week with an 8 p.m. game Thurs?day at cellar-dwelling Kansas Wesleyan (0-4, 3-9), then a home game against Bethany (1-3, 4-9) at 7 p.m. Satur?day.