WATERTOWN, Wis. -- In front of a packed house, the Sabercats started the season off with their first-ever win over the Dominican University Stars, taking a 76-65 win at MBU.
MBU had four players in double-digit points, making their first win of the season a team effort in an up-tempo game.
- Result: Maranatha 76-65 Dominican
- Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 352
- Records: MBU (1-0), DU (0-1)
Energized by a full house, the Sabercats were on point right from the tip, and they had to be - the first half stayed within two possessions either way, as both teams were looking to make a statement in their first game of the season.
MBU put the finishing touches on a sharp offense by shooting over 50 percent from the floor in the first half alone, and the Sabercats' defense was effective, limiting the Stars to shooting 43.2 percent from the field. The Sabercats also never sent the visitors to the line.
The Sabercats went down by six points with 1:36 left on the clock but came back to end the half ahead by one. A couple of free throws from Matt Gill and a five-point run from David Lerma complimented a tight MBU defense, as Lerma knocked down a huge three-pointer with eight seconds left in the half to send MBU to the locker room with some loud support from the home fans.
Lerma led the Sabercats with nine first-half points while Stephen Wilkerson put up eight in the first half.
A three-pointer from Rob Sonnenberg gave the Sabercats a six-point lead just under four minutes into the half, and MBU would stay in front as both offenses began to slow down as the second half got going.
Gill took control of the paint with just over 10 minutes left in the game, putting in a layup to extend the Sabercats' lead to 10 points. The Stars answered with a three, and so did Sonnenberg, as the lead stayed at 10. A quick steal and layup from Jonathan Book extended the lead to 12, and things were looking up on the first day of the season.
The Stars stayed just close enough to keep the Sabercats alert, and they gave the Sabercats a scare inside the three-minute mark, coming back to within four points.
But when they needed to most, the Sabercats stayed cool at the line to put the finishing touches on their first-ever win over Dominican. Gill and Sonnenberg both knocked down clutch free throws in the closing stretches, and MBU had just the start to the season that they were looking for.
MBU Starters: 3-Book, 11-Medina, 15-Lerma, 22-Sonnenberg, 30-Blake// DU Starters: 3-Lavere, 5-Handy, 11-Smith, 23-Watson, 32-Burks
"Coach White has done a really good job with his team, and they played well today," said Assistant Coach Joel Borchardt. "But it was exciting to see our guys pull out the win. We finished with five seniors on the floor, and their experience is going to help us out a lot. It was a great team win - it was good to see everyone pull together and play a good team game."
- Sonnenberg: 16 pts, 7 reb
- Lerma: 15 pts
- Book: 12 pts, 9 reb
- MBU: 4 players in double-digit points
- Field-goal %: MBU 50-38 DU
- Points from the line: MBU 15-3 DU
- Last year: Dominican beat Maranatha at home, 88-73
- Series: The Stars lead the series, 16-1
- The Stars compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
- Dominican finished with a 6-19 record last year
- DU will open NACC conference play on the 27th of November against Concordia-Wisconsin
The Sabercats will travel to Galesburg, Illinois to take on Knox college on Tuesday night for a 7:00 p.m. tip. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.