Tabor women drop first two games of 2015

Mallory Zuercher drives into the lane and looks to score during the second half against Doane Friday. Zuercher led Tabor with 12 points in the Bluejays? 52-43 loss. Tabor followed with a 47-43 loss to Benedictine Saturday. Janae Rempel / Free PressOnce again facing an uphill battle on offense, the Tabor College women endured their second loss of the New Year Saturday in the final game of the Tabor Classic. The Bluejays suffered a 47-43 defeat to NAIA Division I opponent Benedictine.

Despite the loss, coach Shawn Reed took a number of positives from the game.

?I actually thought it was a step forward because I thought we got a lot better shots,??he said. ?I liked our execution and our shot-selection a lot better, but I didn?t think we hit the shots that we needed to. (Friday), I didn?t even think we got good looks.

?I actually thought we played a lot better defense in the second game. Even though it was good in the first game, I thought it was better in the second game against a better opponent.?

Tabor held the Ravens to 19 second-half points and outscored Benedictine by one in that period.

Reed said he was also pleased with his team?s increased post production.

In the first half, Tabor squandered a five-point lead and faced a five-point deficit at halftime. With the teams locked at 12, Kaleigh Troxell scored a three-pointer and followed with a two-point basket that put Tabor in front, 17-12. The teams battled to a 23-23 tie, but a spell of chilly Bluejay shooting allowed the Ravens to build a 28-23 margin at the break.

The Ravens built their lead with an 8-0 burst after halftime. In similar fashion to the night before, Tabor scored four points in the first nine minutes of the second half, which allowed the Ravens to increase their lead to 41-27 with 11:10 to play.

Then something clicked for the Bluejays, and with the defense fueling its offense, Tabor rattled off 14 straight points. Mallory Zuercher tied the game at 41 with a three with 4:57 to go.

But with a couple Tabor misses and a turnover, Benedictine?s Jackie Ziesel scored back-to-back baskets, then Tabor missed three shots. Sam Short scored a basket at 1:02 that brought Tabor within 45-43, then Benedictine missed two shots.

With a chance to tie the game, Tabor turned the ball over on its next possession, and Ziesel scored with 23 seconds left, increasing the margin to four. Tabor missed its final two attempts.

Short led Tabor with 11 points.

Doane?Competing in the first game of the New Year at the Tabor Classic, the Bluejays suffered a 52-43 loss to No. 21 Doane Friday.

Having previously defeated the Tigers on their home court the first of November, Tabor looked to complete the sweep. But lack of execution and an offensive struggle the duration of the game left a sluggish Bluejay squad trailing when the final buzzer sounded.

?You hold a team to 52 points, you ought to win probably, but we just weren?t very good offensively,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?I don?t think our post players got the ball enough, our guards did not shoot well, and I thought our shot selection wasn?t good.?

Reed said the holiday break was a factor.

?We did not come back in very good shape, and I can?t get us in shape in five days,? he said.

Despite a solid defensive performance in which the Bluejays held Doane?s top three shooters to point totals of six, seven and eight, Tabor could not find any offensive rhythm. The Bluejays shot 28.3 percent from the field in the game (13-46), despite holding the advantage in number of possessions and free throws attempted.

Neither team gained much distance in a low-scoring first half. Tabor used a 6-0 burst early to stake their largest lead of the night, 8-4. After a 12-12 tie, Doane jumped in front, then Tabor regained a 19-16 margin, but the Tigers scored the final five points of the half for a 21-19 advantage at halftime.

Tabor managed just three points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, prompting coach Shawn Reed to call timeout with his team trailing 31-22.

?I told them we were going to run one play and we weren?t going to run anything else, and we were just going to run that play and run it right, basically,? he said. ?Because we tried about everything in our playbook, which I didn?t want to do, but it wasn?t the plays we were running, it was the execution of the plays.?

Zuercher responded by driving into the lane and drawing a foul. She made Tabor?s next three points from the free-throw line, which was the start of an 8-2 Bluejay run that brought Tabor within 33-30 with 6:36 to play. Tabor never got closer than that, and the Tigers eventually extended their lead to 10 with less than a minute to go, creating a deficit too large to overcome.

The implications of dropping a game to a ranked opponent were not lost on Reed and his squad.

?There?s lots of ways we can go to the national tournament,? he said. ?One of them is by having a national ranking, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.?

Zuercher led with 12 points. Tonisha Dean added 11.

Coming?Having faced what Reed described as national tournament-caliber teams in the Tabor Classic, the Bluejays will resume KCAC play this week.

Tabor (3-1, 7-9) will play at Bethel (2-2, 5-8) Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bluejays will host Kansas Wesleyan (3-1, 10-4), a team receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 poll, Saturday at 5 p.m.

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