Tabor women bounce back to defeat Southwestern

Bluejay guard Amber Bonham is fouled by Makala Canada of Southwetern during the third quarter of Tabor’s 78-63 victory. Bonham finished 18 points, teammate Taylor Deniston added 19, Sammy Jo Peterson 16 and Tristen Leiszler 11. / Phyllis Richert photo
Bluejay guard Amber Bonham is fouled by Makala Canada of Southwetern during the third quarter of Tabor’s 78-63 victory. Bonham finished 18 points, teammate Taylor Deniston added 19, Sammy Jo Peterson 16 and Tristen Leiszler 11. / Phyllis Richert photo

Coming off a horrible start that cost them a victory against Kansas Wesleyan on Wednesday, the Tabor Col­lege women earned redemption on Saturday with a 21-11 first quarter and a solid 78-63 victory at home.

“We were able to get off to a much better start,” coach Shawn Reed said. “We looked like a whole different team than what I saw, at least in the first quarter (against Kansas Wesleyan). It’s good to bounce back from that and get back to who we are.”

In the second quarter, Tabor increased its lead to 28-11 at the 6:17 mark, thanks to a layup by Sammy Jo Peter­son, a layup and bonus free throw by Tristen Leiszler and a pair of free throws by Amber Bonham.

But the Builders cut the lead to 28-17 with back-to-back 3-pointers within 30 seconds.

For the most of the game, Tabor maintained a lead of eight to 12 points. By halftime, Tabor led 39-31.

Tabor barely won the third quarter, 20-19, for a 59-50 score with one last quarter to play. Southwestern whittled Tabor’s lead to seven, 61-54, on a free throw by Makala Canada of South­western with 7:34 left.

But Tabor went to work, with Bonham getting hot down the stretch. She hit a pair of free throws at 6:51, a 3-point basket 27 seconds later, then scored another basket deep in the lane. Sud­denly Tabor was up, 68-56.

The Bluejays moved beyond the 10-point barrier in the final seven minutes. When Taylor Deniston hit a 2-pointer, Peterson a 3-pointer, and Deniston another 2-point score, Tabor enjoyed its biggest lead of the game at 77-56 with 1:30 to play.

Tabor shot 54 percent for the game (27-51) and 47 percent from behind the arc (8-17). Four Bluejays broke double-digit scoring: Denis­ton 19, Bonham 18, Peterson 16 and Leiszler 11.

“We were much more efficient offensively,” Reed said. “To shoot over 50 percent for each half and have four people in double figures, we were more on track with what we were trying to do. Our screening was better, we had some backdoor cuts and I thought our passing was a lot better.”

Jordyn Miller of South­western led all scorers with 25 points. As a team, the Moundbuilders shot 45 percent (22-49) from the field and 41 percent (7-17) from behind the arc.

The win improves Tabor’s record to 12-6 for the season and keeps them in a tie for second place in the KCAC with Oklahoma Wesleyan at 9-3.

Kansas Wesleyan—A prolonged scoring drought at the start of Wednesday’s game against the Coyotes ultimately cost the Tabor College women their share of first place in the KCAC race with a 65-55 loss on their home court.

The Bluejays missed their first 10 shots and committed seven turnovers before freshman Sammy Jo Peterson broke through with a field goal with 1:12 left in the first quarter. By then, the visiting Coyotes had dug the Blue­jays a 22-0 hole.

Coach Shawn Reed blamed himself for the unprecedented start.

“I didn’t get them ready to play, and obviously Coach (Ryan) Showman did a much better job than I did to get his group ready,” Reed said. “We were careless with the basketball, we turned the ball over. I thought we just played lackadaisical.”

When the first quarter ended, Tabor trailed 26-4 after making only two of 14 shots in the opening period. Meanwhile, KWU was hitting 10 of 15. By halftime, Tabor trimmed the deficit slightly to 16 points at 38-22.

“I was proud that our effort got better in the second quarter,” Reed said. “In the first quarter we had no effort and no tactical.”

The Bluejays opened the third quarter with another drought, managing only two points through the first 4:55. KWU wasn’t shooting much better, but led 42-24 at the 6:05 mark and 52-33 as the quarter ended.

Fueled by 11 more points from Peter­son, Tabor whittled the Coyotes’ lead to 10 points by the end of the game.

Peterson led Tabor’s attack with a season-high 19 points on 7-for-17 shooting. Tristen Leiszler added 11 points.

“When you have a freshman score 19 points, that’s really good,” Reed said of the Chase County alum. “Some of our experience players didn’t have good nights, and that’s disappointing.”

As a team, the Bluejays shot 19-53 from the floor (35.8 percent) while KWU shot 48 percent (26-54). Courtney Heinen led the Coyotes with 14 points.

With the loss, Tabor’s record slipped to 8-3 in the KCAC and 11-6 for the season. Kansas Wesleyan improved to 7-4 and 10-9.

“We’re kind of reeling right now, kind of feeling sorry for ourselves,” Reed said. “Nobody else is going to feel sorry for Tabor. We just have to work harder to get better. We’re missing some people and teams are smelling blood in the water.”

Coming—Tabor will host York College (7-5, 10-9) on Wed­nesday with an 8 p.n. start, then will play at McPherson College (1-11, 4-16) Satur­day with a 6 p.m. tip-off.