TC women’s b-ball team ‘a couple of breaks’ behind KCAC’s elite

The Tabor College women?s basketball team lost to streaking Kansas Wesleyan by a final score of 69-59 Saturday and fell to Southwestern 58-46 Thursday.

?Our team played extremely hard and executed our game plan well against a very good basketball team,? coach Shawn Winter said of Saturday?s game. ?We were just a couple of breaks away from winning.?

The Bluejays posted a 72-55 non-conference loss against Hastings Monday.

Kansas Wesleyan?Though Tabor put the Coyotes five-game winning streak to the test in the second half, the final outcome was foreshadowed by the Coyotes 37-28 run in the first half?a jaunt that had Tabor trailing by as many as 15 points before the intermission.

Stephanie Silvas gave Tabor a 2-0 lead starting the game, but the Coyotes? rabid offense showed few signs of letdown after Saturday?s a 67-58 win over Sterling.

Emily Luckeroth replied with the first of three first-half treys. Luckeroth hit seven threes against the Warriors and was named KCAC ?player of the week? Monday.

Andrea Robinson answered Luckeroth?s triple with a 3-pointer. Then Hullet hit a 2-pointer and Wesleyan tore off nine straight points as Kayleen Dittmer carved up Tabor?s transition defense with three consecutive assists.

?KWU is one of the most talented teams in the NAIA this season,? Winter said. ?We gave them a couple of baskets out of transition and a couple off of offensive rebounds in the first half. If we would not of had those mental lapses, it most likely would have been a tie game at half time.?

Chelsea Malone closed the gap to 12-10 with a 3-pointer, and the Bluejays kept the game within two possessions until Khristy Santee set up baskets by Luckeroth and Brittany Stalnaker, which Dittmer chased with back-to-back baskets.

But the Coyotes lost the scent after the break, and Gina Hullet led the Bluejays on an 11-3 sprint that brought Tabor within a point at 40-39.

The Bluejays forced a defensive stop on the Coyote possession, but reciprocated with a turnover with 9:58 to go.

Wesleyan recovered its killer instinct, as Jenni Vopat then knocked down a long 2-point shot and LaCole Wilkenson turned in a pivotal layup 35 seconds later.

Hullet hit two foul shots, then scored on a dribble-drive, but Dittmer extended the Coyotes scoring streak with five straight points.

Malone bagged four straight for Tabor, but KW took hold of a 54-47 lead on Wilkenson’s triple and closed out the game running away with it.

Hullet finished with 22 points and Malone scored 10.

But Dittmer?s 21 points virtually canceled out Hullet’s big scoring night, allowing the Coyotes secondary scoring to prove overwhelming.

Wilkenson finished with 14 and Luckeroth and Santee each tallied 13.

Southwestern?The Bluejay defense held the Moundbuilders to 19 points on 28 percent shooting in the first half, but refunded most of their hard-earned 24-19 halftime lead during a 3-13 shooting drought to start the second half of Thursday’s 58-46 loss.

Andrea Robinson (12 points) and Kirsten Watson (11 points) scored the high totals for Tabor, but Southwestern made much hay with its superior depth on a night that saw the Bluejays rotation limited to seven players.

The Moundbuilders rolled 10 players in and out of the lineup and eventually put three in double-digits: Amy Liable (14), Jordyn Cossman (12) and Jasmine Jackson (12). Southwestern’s bench outscored Tabor’s 19-5, but the Bluejays conspired to make unanimous all-KCAC first team guard Kara Beal all but disappear.

?Kirsten Watson had one of the best defensive games I have ever seen from the sidelines,? Winter said. ?Kirsten was able to guard one of the most talented players in our conference completely out of the game. We held Beal to six points in the game, and four of those came in the last two minutes.?

Watson and the Bluejays held Beal to six points in the contest.

At the end of the first half, the Bluejays dominated the scoring enough to turn a 13-11 deficit into an 18-13 lead. Robinson made the big shot of the run, a 3-pointer 5:46 before intermission.

But during the first 8:20 of the second half, Southwestern’s defense limited Tabor to a field goal by Gina Hullet and a traditional 3-point play by Robinson.

The stand enabled the Moundbuilders to chip Tabor’s lead down to a 31-31 tie despite the Bluejays own stout defense.

Ellen Blattner gave the Moundbulders the lead with a free throw, and Tabor broke through to tie it when Robinson rebounded a miss by Hullet and then her own miss to score a third-chance layup at 11:40.

Even though Southwestern remained mired in a stretch of six minutes without a field goal, the Bluejays lead did not grow to more than one point.

Watson?s 3-pointer knotted the contest at 37-all and Chelsea Malone knocked down two bonus free throws with 6:06 to go, but the Bluejays scored only once during the next four minutes?and Southwestern rolled off a dozen to make it 51-41 with two minutes to go.

?They had other players step up and hit big shots down the stretch and we were simply not able to convert on the offensive end,? Winter said. ?I felt like we controlled the game in the first half. We battled hard on every possession and could have just as easily come away with a win.?

Coming?Tabor (5-7) hosts fifth-place Friends (6-6) at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Bluejays visit Saint Mary (4-8) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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