There’s something about playing defending KCAC champion Tabor that brings out the best in McPherson College’s women’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs, who lost to the Bluejays by just 2 points in Hillsboro in December, had the lead with 28 seconds to go here Thursday, but Tabor scored the final 4 points to escape with a 62-59 victory.
The Bluejays entered the night three games back of KCAC leader Friends, but the Falcons were upset by Saint Mary for their first conference loss of the season. Tabor thus is two games back with five to play in its attempt to repeat.
“I thought we played very well,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “We had a game plan and they executed it perfectly. It just comes down to one team or the other making the last shot at the end to win and that’s how it went.”
The Bulldogs outscored Tabor in each of the final three quarters, but a slow first quarter had them digging out of a hole much of the night. Tabor led by as many as 14 in the first half before back-to-back 3-pointers by Cami Richardson led a 10-1 Mac run to pull it within 36-31 by the half.
Tabor still led 46-42 going into the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs took their first lead at 58-57 with 1:08 left on a nifty basket by Kristina Battle.
Tabor tied the game with a free throw and Battle put Mac back ahead 59-58 by making a free throw with 28 seconds left. Morgan Ediger scored with 14 seconds left and that proved to be the game-winner. The Bulldogs did not get a good attempt for the lead and Taylor Deniston added a pair of free throws for Tabor with 3.6 seconds left for the final margin.
MC's Cami Richardson continued her campaign for various KCAC honors with 23 points and 7 rebounds. Brooklyn Coe scored 12, going 5 of 5 from the field before fouling out. Danielle Holt had a strong game defensively with 10 rebounds.
Deniston led Tabor with 14 points, one more than Ediger and Tena Loewen. Tabor amazingly did not have a turnover in the first half and had just 4 in the game.
Mac is now 7-10 in the KCAC and one spot removed from the playoffs. It takes a 12-13 overall record to Wichita on Saturday to play Friends.
Mac (59) — Holt 6, Zimmerman 2, Battle 7, Coe 12, Richardson 23, Van Doselaar 2, Racette 5, Gonzalez 2.
Tabor (62) — Reid 7, Loewen 13, Deniston 14, Ediger 13, Schmelzer 3, Webber 2, Decker 7, Manning 3.
• TABOR MEN 79, MAC 68 — The defending KCAC champs took a step closer to repeating.
Tabor is now 15-2 in the KCAC and three games clear of its closest challenger by cooling off a Mac team that had won four of its last five.
The Bulldogs started well with a 12-7 lead, but hit the skids with a 6-minute scoring drought that saw Tabor go up as many as 11. Mac did get it down to 31-25 at the half despite shooting just 30 percent.
Probable KCAC Player of the Year Lance Carter and Julian Winton took over in the second half as Tabor pushed the lead to as many as 22, but the Bulldogs made a spirited run to cut that margin in half by game’s end.
“I honestly thought Tabor played really well,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said, alluding to the Jays making 32 of 59 floor shots. “We didn’t shoot well, which really hurt us, but a lot of that had to do with Tabor defending well with their pressure and they really got out on us.”
Mac had four players in double figures, with Aaron Bachura scoring 19, DeAndre Henson 16, Reed Rowell 14 and Grant Raleigh 11. Winton’s 20 points took game honors and Carter had 15, along with 6 assists.
Mac is now 5-12 in the KCAC and in grave danger of missing the playoffs. It takes an 11-14 overall record to Wichita on Saturday to take on Friends.
Mac (68) — Gurley 6, Butler 2, Henson 16, Bachura 19, Raleigh 11, Rowell 14.
Tabor (79) — Jones 10, Carter 15, Winton 20, Urrutia 4, Parry 11, Schumann 2, Patterson 7, Baker 2, Gibson 8.