Friends?Victory over the No. 9 Falcons was within reach, but Tabor came up just short in overtime, 59-57.
Tabor struggled against Friends? stifling 3-2 zone. The Falcons grabbed 14 steals and scored 32 points off of 27 Tabor turnovers.
?We just made multiple mistakes early in the game that led to layups for them off of turnovers,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?So it wasn?t just that we turned it over, it was turnovers that led to easy baskets for them.?
Reed said Friends is the best defensive team Tabor has faced this season.
?They?re not very tall, so you think you can get it inside, but they just collapse and then they go back out and they collapse and they go back out,? he said. ?You have to use fakes and try and get into the lane in different ways, and we just passed the ball around the perimeter a lot.?
A sign of what was to come, the fast-paced game began with a steal followed by a basket by Friends? Kayla Mollere, the game?s leading scorer with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
But although the Falcons took an early lead, Tabor surged with 10 straight points for their largest margin of the night at 10-4.
Friends took the lead with a burst of eight. Mikaelyn Dick closed the gap to 24-22 at halftime with a three-pointer as time expired.
?We got really sped up,? Reed said. ?They?re very athletic and so you have to give them credit for that, but we have to find people that can play more calm in that. I thought as the game went along, that happened to a degree, but we have to do that from the beginning.?
Friends burst out of the locker room with a string of eight unanswered points before Zuercher narrowed the gap to 32-28 with back-to-back threes. Tabor closed to within 42-41 when Taylor Janzen scored a second-chance basket at 7:11. Trailing 47-46 after a Wilgers three, Tabor regained the lead when Tena Loewen scored with 2:47 to play. But Friends jumped in front with a basket 37 seconds later.
With just under one minute left in regulation, Loewen grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled. She completed the three-point play to put Tabor in front, 51-49, with 57 seconds remaining, but Friends tied it with a basket 16 seconds later. A Tabor attempt missed its mark, sending the game into overtime.
Friends took a quick, 55-51, lead, but Kaleigh Troxell hit a three-pointer, and Loewen followed with a second-chance basket that put Tabor in front, 56-55. But in a critical turning point after a Falcon miss, the Bluejays came up empty on three consecutive shots.
Friends scored, then Dean tied it at 57 with a free throw with 1:00 left to play. Friends scored again at the 31-second mark, and after a Tabor turnover, the Bluejays were forced to foul. Twice, Tabor was unable to secure a defensive rebound, and after Friends? third miss on the front end of a one-and-one, Wilgers came down with the ball. Her half-court lob at the buzzer hit the backboard but missed its mark.
?I thought we played really hard, but that?s not enough because they?re going to play really hard,? Reed said. ?You have to play really smart, and we did not make smart basketball decisions on offense, and that led to 27 turnovers and poor shot selection. Those two things are pretty critical.?
Tabor shot 35 percent from the field (21-60). Janzen led with 10 points. Dean grabbed 10 rebounds.
Southwestern?Tabor defeated the No. 17 Moundbuilders Thursday, 62-48.
The Bluejays held the upper hand in the turnover category for the game, forcing 19 Moundbuilder turnovers, which they turned into 24 points. Southwestern, meanwhile, forced 12 Tabor turnovers, but gained only three points from them.
Southwestern scored the game?s first six points, but Tabor followed with a string of 11 unanswered, capped by a three-point basket by Hannah Willems at the 11:59 mark. Aside from an 18-18 tie, Tabor held the lead the duration of the first half and took a 27-23 advantage into the locker room at the break.
While the Moundbuilders had the higher shooting percentage in the first half, making 10 of 19 attempts (52.6 percent) compared to 32 percent for the Bluejays (8-25), Tabor scored 11 points off 11 Moundbuilder turnovers, compared to zero points off eight turnovers for Southwestern.
The teams battled to a 29-29 tie in the opening minutes of the second half, but from there, Kayla Wilgers capped a 7-0 Tabor surge with a three that put the Bluejays in front, 36-29.
The Moundbuilders fought to a 40-40 tie but never took the lead. The Bluejays then enjoyed a 15-4 run capped by a two-point basket by Sam Short off a turnover that gave them their first double-digit lead, 55-44, with 4:02 left in the game. Tabor maintained a double-digit cushion the rest of the way.
Tabor shot 39.6 percent from the field (21-53), compared with 40.5 percent for Southwestern (17-42). Taylor Janzen led Tabor with 13 points. Mallory Zuercher grabbed 10 rebounds and scored nine points. Sam Short and Kaleigh Troxell also chipped in nine points each.
Coming?Tabor (1-1, 5-7) will host the University of Saint Mary (1-1, 2-7)?Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bluejays will travel to McPherson (1-1, 2-10) Saturday at 5 p.m.