*This story was posted on MyNAIATourney.org on March 13, 2015.
No. 7 seed Tabor College continued their Cinderella tournament run by defeating heavy favorite No. 3 seed Southern Oregon University in the second round by a score of 72-65. The win marks the first ever second-round victory in Tabor College school history.
Despite the Cinderella label for the Bluejays, Head Coach Shawn Reed credits their tough regular season schedule to their tournament success.
“I think we don’t see ourselves that way,” Reed said. “We played a nasty schedule and I believe at this time of year that’ll make us better.”
Tabor’s defense was the story in the first half, limiting the high-octane, fast-paced Southern Oregon offense to just 25 points on 8 of 26 shooting, while also forcing 11 turnovers. The Bluejays limited the Raiders’ top two scorers, Alexi Smith and Carly Meister, to just four and five points a piece in the first half. Senior Kristen Schoenherr led Southern Oregon in scoring with eight points in the first half.
Tabor was able to dictate their half-court style of play offensively, scoring 27 points on 33 shots, despite shooting just one for nine from the three-point line. Sophomore Tena Loewen and junior Taylor Hurd carried the Bluejays in the first half, scoring seven points apiece.
Tabor held on to a slim 27-25 lead at halftime.
Tabor came out of the locker room clicking offensively, jumping out to a 40-30 lead with 14:34 in the half, capped by a Tonisha Dean steal and transition bucket. After a Southern Oregon timeout, the Bluejays kept the momentum going, pushing their lead to 12 with 11:23 in the 2nd half.
Southern Oregon’s full-court, pressure defense, combined with a gutsy second-half effort from junior Ashley Claussen got Southern Oregon within one point with 6:37 left in the game.
After trading baskets a couple times up the court, Hurd, who finished with a game-high 21 points, scored a big basket and one opportunity to put the Bluejays up 68-62 with 1:45 left. Senior Taylor Janzen hauled in a big offensive-rebound, followed by a layup to ice the victory for Tabor.
Loewen finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, while leader Dean added 14 points and two steals of her own.
Reed believes his team will take the win in stride.
“We just have to get refocused,” Reed said. “We just have to take it one game at a time. This group has tended to do that, so we’ll just have to do that tomorrow.”
Tabor moves on to face the winner of the No. 1 seed Davenport vs. No. 5 seed Briar Cliff game on Saturday at 1 p.m.