No. 8 Spires upset Bluejay women

Tena Loewen draws a foul early in the first half against the University of Saint Mary Thursday. Loewen made one of two charity shots to give Tabor a 3-0 lead. She scored 10 points in Tabor?s 57-54 upset loss.  Janae Rempel / Free Press

The top-seeded Tabor College women lost to No. 8 Saint Mary in the KCAC tournament quarterfinals Thursday, 57-54.

?In a situation like a tournament game, the longer you let a team stay in a game?and (Saint Mary) played really well?but the longer you let them stay in it, the more their confidence grows,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?I didn?t think we played our scouting report very well. I didn?t think we had energy and intensity. I thought we were worried about the wrong things, and we hadn?t had good practices prior to that game. All those things added together.?

The Bluejays shot just 35.2 percent from the field for the game (19-54). Saint Mary, meanwhile, shot 38.1 percent for the game (16-42).

In the first half, Tabor made just nine of 32 attempts from the field (28.1 percent), but maintained a slight lead until the final 10 seconds before halftime.

?We missed a lot of mid-range jump shots,??Reed said. ?They?re not going to let you run your offense, and you just have to take what they give you. I thought we got good looks, we just didn?t hit any of them.?

Tabor burst to a 5-0 lead, but the Spires closed within one. From there, a 6-2 run gave the Bluejays an 11-6 edge. After the Spires cut the gap to one, Tabor built to its largest margin, 22-15, with 5:18 left in the half. Kayla Wilgers scored eight of Tabor?s 11 points during that stretch.

The Spires ended the half with an 11-3 run, making back-to-back threes to lead, 26-25, by halftime.

Tena Loewen and Tonisha Dean contributed to a 6-0 run that put the Bluejays in front, 31-26, and the teams traded scores. Tabor increased its lead to 38-32, but the Spires closed the gap to 40-39.

Taylor Hurd responded with a basket, but then Saint Mary?s Rachel Emde single-handedly contributed to a 7-0 run that left Tabor trailing, 46-42, with 7:25 to play.

The Bluejays fell behind, 49-44, but Wilgers made a three to close the gap to two, then Taylor Janzen tied the game at 49 with two free throws with 2:22 to play. But the Spires made two free throws, then scored a traditional three-point play before Dean scored to bring Tabor within 54-51 with 1:13 to go.

Both teams missed a shot, and the Spires called timeout with 14.7 seconds left. Tabor went for the ball on the inbounds play but was whistled for a foul, and Saint Mary extended its lead to 55-51 by making one of two charity shots.

Dean brought Tabor within 55-54 with a three with 5.2 seconds left, but the Spires extended it to the final 57-54 score with two free throws. With just 1.7 left, Tabor?s inbounds pass was tipped by the Spires and time ran out.

?We have to learn a lot of lessons the hard way, and this is just another lesson that we will learn from and grow from,? Reed said. ?We just didn?t do what we needed to do.?

Saint Mary?s Emde and Shanice Palmer led all scorers with 20 points each. Dean and Wilgers led Tabor with 13 points apiece. Loewen added 10.

Coming?Tabor will now prepare for the NAIA national tournament, having clinched an automatic bid by winning the KCAC regular season title. The first round is set to begin March 11.

Seeding for the tournament was to be announced today. Visit for updates.

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