A solid effort on both ends of the court propelled the Tabor College women to an 80-62 KCAC semifinal victory over Saint Mary Saturday, snapping a 13-game Spire win streak.
The Bluejays made 57 percent of their shots (27-for-47), including a blistering 68 percent in the first half (19-for-28), while limiting the Spires to just under 40 percent for the game (21-for-53).
Tabor trailed for just 17 seconds early when the Spires led, 3-2. Following a 10-10 tie, however, Tabor scored nine unanswered points to end the first quarter with a 19-10 lead. Tena Loewen capped the run with a buzzer-beating, second-chance two-pointer.
The Bluejays shot lights out in the second quarter, making a blazing 73 percent of their field goals attempted (11-for-15), including five baskets in the paint and three three-pointers. Tabor outscored the Spires 7-2 to start the period, and by the time Kaleigh Troxell scored the final five points of a 7-0 Bluejay run, Tabor’s lead had grown to 37-18. By halftime, Tabor led by 20, 45-25.
The Bluejays maintained that margin, playing the Spires evenly through the third quarter. Loewen led Tabor’s effort with six points in the quarter. By the final break, the Bluejays were in front, 62-42.
Saint Mary outscored Tabor, 20-18, in the fourth quarter, trimming what had been a 68-44 Bluejay advantage to 71-56 with a 12-3 run over a 2:27 stretch.
Kyli Webber scored after that, and although the Spires drew within 16 a couple times, Tabor regained a 20-point lead late in the game when Morgan Ediger made four free-throws in 30 seconds. Saint Mary scored the game’s final basket with 19 seconds to go, bringing it to the final, 18-point spread.
“I was pleased with our effort,” coach Shawn Reed said. “We knew that we were going to have to battle for 40 minutes, and I thought we did that. I was proud that we took care of the ball. I was proud that we made extra passes. We shared the basketball. We found some people open underneath the basket for some easy buckets and some fouls. We went to the free-throw line a ton. We handled their pressure well.”
With the win, Tabor earned a national tournament berth.
Tabor 65, Southwestern 45
KCAC Quarterfinals, Thursday
Tabor used a solid defensive effort to roll to victory in its first game of the KCAC tournament.
The Bluejays forced 23 Moundbuilder turnovers, which translated into 20 points for Tabor. In addition, Tabor kept the visitors off the charity stripe—Southwestern was 3-for-7 at the line—and limited the ‘Builders’ effectiveness from beyond the arc. From three-point range, Southwestern shot with 29 percent accuracy (4-for-14).
Tabor, meanwhile, made 44 percent of its field goal attempts (24-for-54), including 7-for-20 from three (35 percent). The Bluejays started the game with an 8-2 run and burst to a 15-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Southwestern turned the ball over eight times in the period and made just four of 12 field goal attempts (33 percent).
Tabor continued to build its lead in the second quarter. Kyli Webber capped an 11-3 Bluejay run with a three-pointer with 3:51 left in the half to increase Tabor’s margin to 26-11.
Tabor led by as many as 33-14 and held a 34-16 advantage at halftime. Kaleigh Troxell scored seven of her nine first-half points in the second quarter to lead Tabor’s scoring effort.
When Tabor made just one of its first nine attempts in the third quarter, Southwestern used a 9-2 run to close the gap to 36-25.
After that, though, Tena Loewen scored in the paint to ignite an 8-2 Bluejay run to the end of the period, which concluded with Tabor leading, 44-27, after Morgan Ediger drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Both teams’ scoring increased in the fourth quarter, with Tabor holding the edge, 21-18. The Bluejays led by as many as 24, 65-41, when Ediger scored with 2:10 to play, and Tabor cruised to the 20-point win.
“Last time we played them, it was really close, and we really clamped down defensively tonight and made them work for everything they got,” coach Shawn Reed said. “In the end, I think that was the difference.”
Ediger led all scorers with 15 points. Jurnee Reid scored 11, and Loewen 10.
Coming—Tabor was scheduled to face Friends Monday in the KCAC tournament finals, then will prepare for the NAIA Division II national championships March 8-14 in Sioux City, Iowa.