Jays defeat Coyotes in double OT

Tonisha Dean shoots for two during the second half against Kansas Wesleyan Saturday. Dean led all scorers with 31 points in Tabor?s double-overtime, 82-73, victory. Janae Rempel / Free PressIn a battle between two of three KCAC-leading teams, the Tabor College women?s basketball team maintained a share of first place with an 82-73 victory over Kansas Wesleyan in double overtime Saturday.

The Bluejays were led by a 31-point performance from Tonisha Dean.

?This was the second game where we?ve moved Tonisha out on the wing, and I think that we started to see some of the benefit from that,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?She?s just so much more comfortable out there. She?s so athletic, and I think it allows her to get in a better rhythm for her jump shot, her mid-range jump shot.?

While Dean was the only Bluejay to score in double figures, Reed acknowledged that others were implementing on offense as well.

?I did see better execution,? he said. ?I thought we shared the ball pretty well. Our shot-selection was better. There?s still a lot of work to do there, but it was better.?

The Coyotes led, 12-6, at 12:38, but with tough defense and an offense finding its rhythm, the Bluejays ended the first half with a 20-8 burst that put them in front, 26-20. Dean scored Tabor?s final 13 points of the half.

Reed praised his team?s defensive effort in the first half, as well as the Bluejays? ability to take care of the ball in the face of the Coyote press. Kansas Wesleyan did not press the Bluejays in the second half, something Reed credited to Tabor?s defensive strength.

?I?ve watched several films, and they?ve pressed for 40 minutes, and they didn?t press us in the second half,? Reed said. ?I was really proud of that. Them getting out of their press was a huge confidence thing for us.?

The Bluejays kept the lead until a string of seven Coyote points tied the game at 40. Following a 58-58 tie, Dean and Tena Loewen scored to push Tabor in front, 62-58, but four Coyote free throws in a 37-second span tied the game with just 11 seconds to play. Tabor?s attempt at a winning shot fell incomplete at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Tabor scored the first four points of overtime from the charity stripe but then could not get a basket to fall. Meanwhile, Kansas Wesleyan used a 7-0 run to take the lead, 69-66, with 2:21 to play.

Loewen chipped in a free throw, then Dean scored a three-point play to put Tabor in front, 70-69 with 40 seconds left. A Tabor foul sent Kansas Wesleyan to the line with 21 seconds left, where the first free throw hit its mark but the second missed to tie the game at 70. Again, a Tabor shot missed, sending the game into a second overtime period.

Troxell ignited an 11-1 run by draining a three 30 seconds in and adding a basket for a 75-70 Tabor lead with 3:46 to play. By the time Taylor Janzen made a pair of free throws at 1:44, Tabor led, 81-71. Kansas Wesleyan managed just two free throws after that, and Troxell sealed the win with a final free throw.

?I thought we?d lost that game in regulation toward the end, and we managed to hang on, and then I thought we had lost it in the first overtime, and we managed to hang on,? Reed said. ?I?m just really proud of our team for gutting it out.?

Dean led all scorers. Loewen had 10 rebounds to go with her nine points.

Bethel?Tabor weathered a late Thresher rally to win, 64-58, Thursday. Tabor led by double figures in both halves, Bethel rallied late to close within five.

?The most disappointing thing about that game is that I think both in the first half and the second half, we were up by 13 or 15, and we have not been able to extend that out and get it to where it?s in the 20s,? coach Shawn Reed said.

Leading 33-26 at halftime, .the Bluejays rolled out of the locker room with a 7-0. But Bethel responded a 10-3 burst that closed the gap to 43-36 with 12:22 to play.

Tabor outscored the Threshers 10-2 over the next three minutes, taking their largest lead of the night when Wilgers drained a three with 9:15 to play. The Bluejays maintained a comfortable margin, and led, 60-46, with 3:27 to go.

But Bethel turned up the heat in the final minutes. In the next 2:37, Sam Short scored Tabor?s only point from the charity stripe, while Bethel closed the gap to 61-54 with 58 seconds left.

With Tabor shooting a collective 50 percent from the free-throw line in the final 50 seconds, the Threshers cut the deficit to five, 63-58, with 31 seconds to play. Mallory Zuercher concluded scoring with a free throw, and Tabor hung on to win by six. Wilgers led with 15 points. Dean added 12.

Coming?Tabor (5-1, 9-9) will host Bethany (0-6, 1-17) Thursday at 6 p.m. and will travel to Sterling (3-3, 6-11) Saturday at 5 p.m.

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