GALESBURG, Ill. -- In a tight game from start to finish, Knox College handed the Sabercats a 71-68 defeat - just like last year, it was a three-point win for Knox.
Jonathan Book had a career-high 26 points in the loss, as the Sabercats drop back to 1-1 on the season.
- Result: Maranatha 68-71 Knox
- Venue: Memorial Gymnasium, Knox College
- Location: Galesburg, Ill.
- Attendance: 100
- Records: MBU (1-1), KC (1-1)
Neither team could get a rhythm going in the opening minutes of the game, as they combined for just nine points through the opening seven minutes. The game began to open up in the later stages of the first half, but no one had legitimate control of the game. Book got things started with 10 points in the first half (five from the line), but as a unit, the Sabercats had trouble from downtown, connecting on just two attempts out of 10. All told, the Sabercats relied on 13 points from the charity stripe, as they shot just 6-23 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
At halftime, Knox held a 28-27 lead.
The story stayed the same throughout the second half, as it remained a one- or two-possession contest for the majority of the act.
Things got chippy with about 13 minutes left, as an altercation near the MBU bench led to six ejections - two for MBU and four for Knox. Once the dust settled, MBU extended their lead to four points through two free throws from David Lerma.
That four-point lead was the largest of the night for the Sabercats, and it wouldn't last long, as Jaelon Brooks knocked down a three-pointer at the 7:50 mark to restore the Prairie Fire lead - a lead that would last until the final horn.
The Sabercats found themselves trailing by eight points with just 26 seconds on the clock, but they made it interesting. MBU fouled the right people, as Knox missed four free throws in a row in the closing seconds. A three-pointer from Book made it a 66-69 game, and two possessions later, Book was at the line with the same numbers on the scoreboard. Book knocked down his first one but got an "unlucky" bounce off the front of the rim on the second, as it fell in when Book tried to set up a rebound for a teammate. For Book, it seemed everything was going in that night.
Two late free throws from Ikenna Ozor iced the game for Knox, as the Prairie Fire had the last laugh after 40 minutes of intense college basketball.
MBU Starters: 3-Book, 11-Medina, 15-Lerma, 22-Sonnenberg, 30-Blake // KC Starters: 00-Godbold, 11-Ruple, 15-Bray, 25-Ozor, 32-Windt
"This was our first road game and we definitely didn't come out with the right attitude and we didn't play up to our potential," Said head coach Keith Salscheider. "We struggled offensively and we just didn't come ready to play. We'll look to [Jonathan] Book and Dave [Lerma] for leadership and to get our guys to step it up a notch. We give a lot of credit to [Knox]. They are a good team and they deserve to win."
- Book: 26 pts, 5 reb
- Lerma: 19 pts
- MBU: shot 28.3 percent from the field
- MBU: shot 7-27 from beyond the arc
- Rebounding: MBU 48-49 KC
- Largest Lead: 8 pts - Knox
- Last year: Knox beat Maranatha at MBU, 82-79
- Series: The Prairie Fire lead the series, 2-0
- The Prairie Fire compete in the Midwest Conference
- Knox posted a 7-18 record last year, which included five wins decided by two or less possessions
- KC will open MWC conference play on the 30th of November against Ripon College
The Sabercats will travel to Milwaukee to take on Wisconsin Lutheran College at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.