TC women finish second in KCAC

Kaleigh Troxell draws a foul during the first quarter against Oklahoma Wesleyan Saturday. Troxell made both charity shots to give the Bluejays a 19-11 lead. Troxell led all scorers with 12 points in Tabor’s 68-41 win.The Tabor College women’s basketball team split its final regular-season games last week to finish as KCAC runners-up with an 18-4 record, 23-6 overall.

Oklahoma Wesleyan—Tabor rebounded from Thursday’s loss with a 68-41 win over the Eagles Saturday in a game in which Coach Shawn Reed said his team was more focused.

The Bluejays limited Oklahoma Wesleyan to 14 points on 24 percent shooting (7-for-29) in the second half to cruise to victory.

Tabor established a lead from the start. With the Bluejays in front, 12-11, Tristen Leiszler drained a three-pointer then stole the ball 13 seconds later and dished it to Kyli Webber, who scored in the paint. Those were the first points of a 9-0 Bluejay run that put Tabor in front by 10. The Eagles scored the quarter’s final basket, making it 21-13.

Oklahoma Wesleyan outscored Tabor, 14-10, in the second quarter. Tena Loewen scored the first four points of the period, then Tabor did not score over the next 5:31, allowing the Eagles to trim the margin to 25-20. By halftime, Tabor’s lead had dwindled to 31-27.

Tabor took control by outscoring Oklahoma Wesleyan, 22-8, in the third quarter. The Bluejays made seven of 12 attempts in the period (58 percent), while the Eagles made four of 15 (27 percent). Kaleigh Troxell and Morgan Ediger each contributed five points to the effort. By the final break, Tabor led, 53-35.

The Bluejays continued to build their lead. Coach Shawn Reed put his five seniors on the floor late in the game in honor of senior night, and Maggie Ramirez made the game’s final basket to bring it to the 27-point spread.

Reed said it was important to limit the Eagles’ three-point shooting, which the Bluejays did—Oklahoma Wesleyan made just one of 16 attempts (6 percent). Reed also praised his team for its rebounding effort and in limiting turnovers.

Aside from a second-quarter lull, Reed praised his team for its execution.

“I felt like we did the things that we talked about doing,” he said. “I wasn’t pleased with how we finished the first half. They kind of went on a little run there.

“We had a stretch in the second quarter where we got really stagnant offensively, but then in the second half, our defense was tremendous.”

Troxell led all scorers with 12 points. Ediger scored 11.

Kansas Wesleyan—Despite a 24-14 fourth-quarter effort, the Bluejays could not overcome a slow start in Thursday’s 57-55 road loss.

“We don’t seem to play well until we are completely backed into a corner,” coach Shawn Reed said. “They did not do anything that surprised us. We practiced their 3-2 (zone). We practiced them switching from 3-2 to man. We worked against every offense that they ran, and we are just not doing what we’ve practiced. We don’t do it at the start of games, and we finally will latch onto some things when we have no other choice.”

The Bluejays made just one basket—a three-pointer by Morgan Ediger—in six attempts during the first 7:49, allowing the Coyotes to build a 13-3 lead. Tristen Leiszler broke Tabor’s drought, which lasted 6:47, with a three-pointer to ignite an 8-2 Bluejay run to the end of the quarter. By the first break, Tabor had trimmed the Coyotes’ lead to 15-11.

Kansas Wesleyan scored the first four points of the second quarter, then Tabor used an 8-0 run to tie the game at 19 after Tena Loewen completed a traditional three-point play. But a 9-4 Coyote end to the quarter left Tabor trailing at halftime, 28-23.

The Coyotes outscored Tabor, 15-8, in the third quarter. The Bluejays committed six turnovers and made three of 10 attempts from the field. By the final break, Tabor faced a 43-31 deficit.

Tabor’s defense stepped up the intensity in the fourth quarter, forcing five Coyote turnovers in the first 3:09. The Coyotes scored their first points at the 5:11 mark.

A 6-1 run by Tabor brought the Bluejays within 46-44, and the teams traded scores. The Coyotes gained distance, 55-49, but Ediger responded with a three-pointer with 19 seconds to go. After the Coyotes made one of two free-throws, Ediger drained another trey, bringing Tabor within 56-55 with 9 seconds to play. Again, the Coyotes made one of two charity shots, but a Bluejay three-point attempt at the buzzer missed its mark.

Loewen led Tabor’s scoring effort with 13 points. Ediger scored 12 and Webber 10.

Coming—As regular-season runners-up, the Bluejay women will host seventh-seeded Southwestern Thursday at 7 p.m. in the KCAC tournament quarterfinals. With a win, Tabor would host the winner of No. 3 Saint Mary and No. 6 Sterling Saturday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals. The other half of the bracket features No. 1 Friends hosting No. 8 Oklahoma Wesleyan and No. 4 Kansas Wesleyan hosting No. 5 Ottawa.

The finals will be played Monday at Hartman Arena at 8 p.m.

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