Tabor College men’s basketball coach Micah Ratzlaff said he was glad his team won Thursday night against Kansas Wesleyan University, but admitted there was a lack of effort at times.
“We’re really lucky to sneak out of here with a win,” Ratzlaff said after reading the stat sheet. “We really struggled shooting the ball in the first half.”
The Bluejays made 40 percent of their shots from the field, but the Coyotes fared worse, making 37 percent of their shots for the game.
Down 31-29 with a little more than two minutes left in the half, an alley-oop pass from D’Marco Smith to Andrew Thomas jump-started a 9-0 Tabor run to end the first half.
Thomas finished as the game’s leading scorer and rebounder with 24 points and 13 boards. Ratzlaff said Thomas still is only about 90 percent healthy.
A three-point shot by Nick Sauer at the beginning of the second half gave Tabor a 41-31 lead, the team’s largest lead of the day.
Trailing 50-43 with 15 minutes left, the Coyotes mounted a comeback, making two threes and a pair of free throws to take a one-point lead.
The Coyotes built the lead up to as much as seven by the 4:25 mark at 70-63, but the Bluejays rallied behind Sauer, Thomas, and Dewayne Biggs, who helped lead the Bluejays on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 72.
Tabor again fell behind by three, but a three-pointer from Lance Carter re-tied the game with 1:10 remaining.
Biggs stole the ball the next possession, but missed the bonus free throw. The Coyotes missed a layup on their next possession, leading to a tied ball favoring the Bluejays.
Coming out of a timeout with 15 seconds left, Biggs eventually drove the lane and was fouled again, with 2 seconds left in the game. He missed the first shot, but made the second, giving Tabor the one-point victory.
“We made some plays,” Ratzlaff said. “I thought our zone was a lot better at the end, and we were able to have timeouts and talk about how we wanted to guard.”
Biggs finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the free-throw line.
“He’s been solid for us, maybe the most consistent player on the team since the beginning of the year,” Ratzlaff said.
Ratzlaff also credited playing point guards Biggs and J.T. Nemit together down the stretch to bring the team back, even though it took awhile.
“You run home as fast as you can from games like this,” he said. “You don’t want to talk about it too much, because you don’t know how it happened.”
The Bluejays struggled on the road Saturday against Bethany College, losing 102-86. Biggs led the Jays in scoring with a game-high 30 points, but it was not enough to overcome a Swedes team shooting above 50 percent from the field and from three.
The Bluejays play their last games before the winter break this week. They first play Thursday at 8 p.m. against Bethel in North Newton, then at 7 p.m. Saturday in Hillsboro against Sterling.