Kansas Wesleyan?Tabor led from start to finish in its 57-46 road victory Saturday.
The Bluejays jumped to an early 7-0 lead and increased it to double figures, 19-7, after Janelle Rust drained a three-pointer with 9:58 left in the first half.
The Coyotes narrowed the gap to 21-15 at 4:07, but Rust answered with another three-pointer. She scored again at 1:03 to ignite a 7-0 Tabor run to increase the margin to 31-16 by halftime.
Although Kansas Wesleyan managed to outscore Tabor in the second half, 30-26, the effort was not enough.
Tabor led 35-19 after a Tena Loewen free throw at 17:08, but Kansas Wesleyan surged 8-0 after that to narrow the gap to 35-27 with 11:59 to play.
Loewen made a basket eight seconds later to push Tabor?s lead back to 10, and the Bluejays maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
Rust led the Tabor attack with a game-high 17 points. She completed the double-double performance by grabbing 10 rebounds. Loewen added 13 points.
Friends?After falling behind by as many as 15 points in the first half at Friends Wednesday, Tabor staged a furious second-half comeback to lead by 4 with 5:03 left in the game.
But when Tabor scored only two points the duration of the game, the 21st-ranked Falcons claimed the victory, 61-54.
?We have a pattern that when we play really good teams, we don?t start well, and we dig ourselves a hole, and I don?t know why,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?We?ve tried a lot of different tactics and techniques. We did not play our scouting report well at all. We just came out and just didn?t think.?
The teams traded baskets to start the game, and Mallory Zuercher tied it at 8 with a three-pointer at the 15:28 mark. But things went downhill from there as Tabor turnovers and missed shots against Friends? 3-2 zone defense contributed to a 15-0 Falcon run for a 23-8 lead with 9:27 left before halftime. Tabor?s scoring drought lasted more than six minutes before Tonisha Dean scored at 9:10.
The Bluejays drew within 25-16 when Kayla Wilgers hit back-to-back threes, but Friends scored 10 seconds later to push the margin back to double figures. It remained that way until halftime, with the Falcons holding a 35-25 lead.
Slowly, the tide began to change, however, as the Bluejays stepped up their defensive intensity.
Nikki Lewis and Kaleigh Troxell narrowed the Friends lead with back-to-back scores, and a Janelle Rust three-pointer brought Tabor within 44-38.
The teams traded baskets until a Troxell three-pointer ignited a 12-0 Bluejay surge to take the lead, 52-48, when Dean made a second-chance basket with 5:03 left in the game.
But with Tabor managing only two points the duration of the game?two free throws by Hannah Paust with 31.6 seconds left?Friends was able to tie the score and reclaim the advantage to lead by seven when time expired.
?This was a tough loss because it probably took us out of the opportunity to win our league, which is hard to hear when you?ve just played the first rotation,? Reed said. ?We have to just try and keep getting better and see what happens.
?It?s just disappointing because we?re not very tough. That?s disheartening. We just don?t do the things that we need to do to win.?
Paust and Troxell led Tabor with eight points apiece.
Coming?Tabor (7-3, 12-8), who is receiving votes in the latest Coaches? Top 25 poll, will host Bethany (1-9, 3-19) Wednesday at 6 p.m. and travel to Bethel (4-6, 10-10) Saturday for a 5 p.m. contest.