Tabor defeats Bethany, Sterling

Tonisha Dean scores early in the first half at Sterling. Dean led all scorers with 20 points in Tabor?s 76-68 win. Janae Rempel / Free PressThe Tabor College women?s basketball team used a big first-half performance to gain a 76-68 victory on the road at Sterling Saturday.

The Bluejays shot a blistering 68 percent from the field in the first half (17-25), including 50 percent from three (3-6). Tonisha Dean contributed 14 points to Tabor?s 43-28 halftime lead.

?They were pressuring us, and that opened up some opportunities to attack the bucket, and we did that,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?I liked our shot-selection a lot better. We got the ball inside, and we were attacking the rim and taking our kind of shots, which was good.?

Tabor trailed the game?s first seven minutes, falling behind by as many as six. Dean scored eight of Tabor?s first 10 points, but Tabor trailed until Tena Loewen scored and Kayla Wilgers followed with a steal and basket that tied the game at 14.

Following a 20-20 tie, Tabor closed the half with a 23-8 run. Hannah Willems contributed eight points in the effort, including a three-point play, a three-pointer and a two-point basket at the end of the half that put Tabor in front, 43-28.

The Bluejays continued to build their lead in the second half, extending it to 59-39 when Kaleigh Troxell drained a three with 12:59 to play. Tabor led by as many as 22, 66-44, with 9:56 left to play.

With Tabor in front, 69-48, after a three-point play by Dean, Sterling cut the deficit to 13 with a string of eight. Tabor increased its margin to 74-57 after a Wilgers three with 2:49 to play, but Sterling outscored the Bluejays 11-2 after that, leaving Tabor with an eight-point lead when time expired.

?I was not happy with how we finished the game,? Reed said. ?We?re up 22, I think, and we turn the ball over, we foul them, they get points while the clock?s stopped, they got multiple and-ones. Our defensive intensity wasn?t good, our help wasn?t good. We weren?t executing plays.

?It?s a shame that you can play so well and have kind of a sour taste in your mouth, but we just have to learn from that. I don?t want that to overshadow the great things that we did. I thought we shared the ball really well and people were taking shots I want them to take. We?ve been struggling offensively, so to have a night like this on the road against a good team is good.?

Dean led all scorers with 20 points. Loewen added 12, Wilgers 11 and Mallory Zuercher 10.

Bethany?Tabor defeated a Swede squad still seeking its first KCAC win, 56-35, Thursday.

The Bluejays limited the KCAC?s leading scorer, Adriane Davis, to just seven points, well below her per-game average of 181?2 points. Tabor held Royce Shields, who is also among the top 10 in KCAC scoring, to two points below her average of 13 points. Tabor limited Bethany to just 13.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half (3-22).

Bethany jumped to an early, 5-0 lead but then did not score again for nearly 11 minutes thanks to a stingy Bluejay defense. Tabor, meanwhile, quickly tied the game and took the lead for good when Taylor Hurd drained a three-pointer with 13:15 left in the first half. Seven Bluejays contributed to Tabor?s 18-0 run that put the Bluejays firmly in front, 18-5, when Tena Loewen scored at 8:47.

?We haven?t started well this year,? coach Shawn Reed said of the Bluejays? slow start. ?That?s just a problem for us. We just weren?t very sharp defensively the first few times, and our defense usually kind of helps dictate our offense.?

Shields broke Bethany?s scoring drought with a basket at 7:54. The game?s leading scorer, Shields scored a second time to narrow Tabor?s lead to single figures one last time, 18-9. From there, the Bluejays used a 9-1 run to take a 27-10 lead into halftime.

?(We) locked down defensively and then started to move the ball,? Reed said. ?We don?t play against a lot of teams that play zone the whole time, and it was really good for us to do that tonight. I think they play a pretty good zone, and we just didn?t move the ball very well early. We just kind of stood.?

Tabor continued to build its lead. Loewen and Kayla Wilgers combined for eight points, boosting Tabor?s lead to 39-16 when Wilgers made a three at 11:11. Wilgers drained a second three two minutes later, and Hurd answered with a three that gave the Bluejays their largest lead of the night, 45-19, with 7:52 to play. Reed began to clear his bench, and Tabor went on to win by 21.

Tabor committed 21 turnovers, but out-rebounded the Swedes 41-29.

?We had too many turnovers,? Reed said. ?We did rebound really well. We had 14 offensive rebounds, and that was one of our keys. I was proud of them for that.?

Despite the win, starting forwards Tonisha Dean and Sam Short left the game to injury during the second half, putting a damper on the victory.

Loewen led the Bluejays with 10 points. Shields scored 11 for Bethany.

Coming?Tabor (7-1, 11-9) will play at Ottawa (5-3, 9-9) tonight at 6 p.m. and will host Southwestern (5-3, 11-7), a team receiving votes in the NAIA?Top 25 poll, Saturday at 5 p.m. to start the second half of KCAC play.

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