After trailing, 43-36 at halftime to a sharp-shooting Southwestern team, the Tabor College men’s basketball team found a way to get it done, earning a 74-72 victory in a game that came down to the wire.
Southwestern made 50 percent of its attempts from the field in the first half (17-for-34), including 47 percent from three (7-for-15), which contributed to its seven-point lead at intermission. Cameron Hunt scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half to lead all scorers.
Meanwhile, Julian Winton scored seven of Tabor’s first 11 points, but a 10-0 stretch for Southwestern gave the Moundbuilders a 15-11 lead. Tabor trailed the duration of the first half. Lance Carter scored 10 points in the final 9:17 to lead the Bluejay scoring effort at the break.
The Moundbuilders made three three-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half, which helped them attain their largest lead of the night, 54-40. Davaghndre Jones scored six of Tabor’s next eight points to bring Southwestern’s lead back to single figures, 56-48, but a Moundbuilder basket bumped it back to 10, 58-48.
After that, the visitors went cold, making one of their next seven attempts. Tullio Parry recorded two steals in that stretch as Tabor turned a 10-point deficit into a tie ball game, 60-60, with 6:17 to play.
Southwestern’s scoring drought lasted four minutes.
“(Southwestern) shot it really well in the first five minutes of the second half, and we subbed Kyle Baker and Jordan Horstick in, and I don’t know if either of them scored except for a couple free-throws, but it actually was the difference-maker—and Jonathan Gibson was part of that—but that’s when (Southwestern) stopped scoring,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “They went really hard. They were focused. They didn’t want to screw up, and they were able to help us get stops.”
Ratzlaff said the Bluejays also increased their pressure, which threw Southwestern off rhythm.
“We didn’t give them a lot of second chance points,” he said. “We guarded the three ball really well. We chased them all over the place. They didn’t get a lot of looks from the three. (It) took the rhythm out of the game on their offensive end and finally they started missing some shots. It was still a grind (offensively) for us, but we just continued to attack.”
Tabor took its first lead since 11-10 when Winton made two free-throws for a 64-62 Bluejay advantage, and the lead changed hands a few times.
The Bluejays led, 72-68 with 32 seconds to play, then Southwestern scored and stole Tabor’s inbounds pass but missed a layup that would have tied the game.
Carter grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made both charity shots to extend Tabor’s lead to 74-70 with 10 seconds left. Southwestern scored with less than a second to play, bringing it to the final, two-point spread.
For the game, Tabor shot 43 percent (27-for-63), compared to 42 percent for Southwestern (27-for-64). Carter and Winton shared top scoring honors for Tabor with 17 points each. Carter also had 10 rebounds. Jones scored 14 points and Parry 12.
Tabor enters the holiday break atop the KCAC standings with a 7-1 record, 8-6 overall.
“To have one loss in our league is a big deal,” Ratzlaff said. “Every win’s a big win. To me it’s crazy that we’re 7-1. We’re not playing our best basketball. We’ve played some good halves, but I guess we’ve been tough enough and made enough plays to get it done.”
Coming—Tabor will resume play in the holiday classic next week. The Bluejays will host Science and Arts Friday, Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. and will play Hastings Saturday, Dec. 31 at 7 p.m.