PARK CITY — Two baskets in the first minute-plus of overtime Monday night afforded the opportunity for Tabor mens basketball team to do something it hadnt done for the previous 40 be patient.
There was no patience when Tabor was chasing Sterlings nine-point second-half lead in the KCAC postseason tournament championship. There was none when the Bluejays needed a three-pointer in the final seconds to tie it, and none from Nick Sauer when he decided to take it.
Sauer made the shot to send the game beyond regulation, and those early baskets finally offered Tabor some breathing room, which it protected with a 97-90 win at Hartman Arena. In addition to Sauers heroics, Tabor forward Lance Carter had 42 points and 17 rebounds.
The Bluejays (21-12), the No. 5 seed, earned an automatic berth into the NAIA national tournament later this month, which they not-so-patiently waited on after taking a five-point lead in the final minute of overtime and brief hope for Sterling.
We started smiling a little too early, Tabor coach Micah Ratzlaff said. But thats normal for our guys. We got stops down the stretch. Our zone (defense) was huge.
An offensive foul with 47 seconds to go took away one of Tabors final chances to go ahead, and the situation became even more desperate when Braden Thompson scored to put Sterling ahead 85-82 26 seconds later.
After a timeout, Tabor didnt need to change much about its strategy because the Bluejays had been matching Sterlings frenetic pace all night. The ball ended up with Sauer on the left wing and Sauer, who had missed each of his three prior three-point attempts, rattled it in for the tie.
We dont shoot the three ball very good, obviously, Ratzlaff said. We like to shoot, but we dont shoot it very well. Nick Sauer can really shoot it he didnt shoot it well, but hes a senior. (Assistant coach Anthony Monson) drew up that play, hes our Xs and Os when it comes to stuff like that.
He drew up a great play, and (Sauer) snuck out and didnt hesitate, which helped him get it off. And he stroked it.
Tabors biggest shot came from beyond the arc, but the Bluejays were more balanced than Sterling.
Carter was a force from most spots on the floor and helped protect the paint from Sterlings quick, penetrating guards. The Warriors, meanwhile, nearly took a double-digit lead with three-pointers and thats where they lost it, too.
Sterling (25-8) made 8 of its first 13 three-pointers, then missed seven of the next eight to allow Tabor a chance to rally. Sterling got a pair of threes in the final 2:18 of regulation but was unable to pull away.
Carter was Tabors steadying point in the middle of Sterlings surge and he provided stability in overtime, making free throws down the stretch.
For a freshman, hes the calmest freshman Ive ever seen in our program, Ratzlaff said. Hes not always the point guy, but literally all season long he has filled up the stat sheet. Tonight, he filled up the stat sheet and he got the points.
TABOR: Thomas 5-10 5-7 15, Carter 12-18 14-16 42, Biggs 5-9 5-8 16, Smith 1-5 4-6 6, Samuel 1-5 2-2 4, Hopkinson 2-8 0-0 6, Nemit 0-1 2-2 2, Sauer 2-7 1-2 6, Rust 0-0 0-0 0, Loewen 0-0 0-0 0, Dudgeon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-63 33-43 97.
STERLING: Thompson 10-16 2-2 25, Adesodun 5-9 3-4 13, Alexander 6-7 7-10 23, Swank 3-8 1-3 9, Dower 1-5 1-2 3, Givens 2-5 2-2 7, Smith 1-3 0-0 2, Starks 0-0 0-0 0, Jaderston 1-1 0-0 3, Oyatayo 0-4 1-2 1, Ray 0-1 0-0 0, Eubanks 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 30-70 19-27 90.
Three-point shootingTabor 8-24 (Carter 4-6, Hopkinson 2-7, Biggs 1-3, Sauer 1-4, Thomas 0-1, Nemit 0-1, Smith 0-2); Sterling 11-29 (Alexander 4-9, Thompson 3-6, Swank 2-5, Jaderston 1-1, Givens 1-4, Oyatayo 0-1, Adesodun 0-3). ReboundsTabor 42 (Carter 17), Sterling 42 (Swank 7). FoulsTabor 22, Sterling 28. TechnicalsRay, Sterling. AssistsTabor 16 (Biggs 8), Sterling 12 (Thompson, Alexander 3).