WICHITA – The Friends University Falcons wasted no time in taking command and never trailed in a 66-53 victory over the Tabor College Bluejays tonight inside the Garvey Center for their third consecutive victory. The win keeps the Falcons one game ahead of Avila University for the eighth spot in the KCAC. Earning the eighth seed would allow the Falcons to host a KCAC tournament opening round game on Feb. 22.
Four points each from Tim Barbieri (JR/Abilene,Kan. ) and Ian Konek (JR/Long Beach, Calif.) keyed a 13-4 burst to open the contest and a putback by Barbieri pushed the lead to double-figures at 20-9 with 10:31 remaining in the opening half.
Trey Reid (FR/Wichita, Kan. ) then got into the act and put in five straight points to help balloon the edge up to 30-13.
The Bluejays got back into it with nine straight to cut the lead to eight before Matt Reeves(FR/Mansfield, Texas) answered with consecutive threes to stretch the lead back to 14 and the Falcons carried a 36-24 lead into the break.
After Tabor started the second half with six of the first seven points to claw within seven, Connor Kern(FR/Prosper, Texas) hit a timely putback and two free throws to stretch the lead back to 13.
With the lead standing at 10 points, Friends pulled away further when a trey by Jordan Gary(FR/Decatur, Ga. ) capped an 8-0 run to give the Falcons their largest lead of the night near the midway point of the second half.
The Falcons put it cruise control from there, leading by at least 12 the rest of the way.
“I’m extremely proud of that team win,” said Friends men’s basketball head coach Austin McBeth. “It wasn’t a pretty one, and we went through some rough patches, but our guys stuck together and kept maintaining a lead with our effort on defense. It was great to see everyone contribute in some significant way. Very proud of these guys!”
Konek finished with a team-high 14 points for the Falcons (10-18, 9-13 KCAC), with Barbieri scoring 13 along with nine rebounds. Alex Gray (FR), this week’s top KCAC offensive performer, had a truly unique line of 0 points but team-high totals of 14 rebounds and four assists. Kern also reached double-figure scoring with 10 points for the Falcons.
Myles Jeffries led Tabor (7-18, 5-17 KCAC) with eight points and Kade Hemmert pulled down a team-best six boards.
The box score reflected the dominating performance by the Falcons, as they outshot the Bluejays from the field (40.4 percent to 32.8 percent), held a whopping 51-30 edge in rebounding and controlled the interior to the tune of outscoring the Bluejays 24-14 in the paint and 17-5 in second chance points.
The Falcons also stifled the Bluejays into just a 14.8 percent shooting clip (4-27) from beyond the arc.
Friends will next be at the University of Saint Mary Wednesday night (Feb. 16) at 8 pm in Leavenworth, Kan.