WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The Sabercats are the reigning NCCAA North Region champions, and they showcased that tonight by calling the shots against Emmaus Bible College.
Twenty points and eight boards from Rob Sonnenberg fueled a decisive 84-69 win over the Eagles, and the Sabercats are now 2-0 on their home floor.
- Result: Maranatha 84-69 Emmaus
- Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 231
- Records: MBU (4-3), EBC (0-11)
The Sabercats went right through the Eagles' defense in the opening minutes, as the game was end-to-end and open right from the start.
But the Eagles managed to stay in front, converting their chances at the other end of the court to maintain the edge. Persistence was going to be the name of the game for the Sabercats, and soon enough, they were rewarded with a Stephen Wilkerson 3-pointer that gave MBU a lead that they would hold until the game ended.
Once halftime hit, the Sabercats had a five-point cushion thanks to their rebounding (better than 2-to-1 over Emmaus), and thanks to eight points apiece from Sonnenberg and from RJ Medina
After the halftime break, Sonnenberg connected a contested jumper from close range, increasing the lead to 10 and forcing Emmaus to call a timeout. The respite did little to throw the Sabercats off their rhythm, as they maintained a similar advantage as the second half wore on.
Just after the 10-minute mark, the Eagles came back to within hailing distance (nine points to be exact), but Coach Keith Salscheider took some time to talk it over, and after the timeout, the Sabercats quickly restored the lead and extended it until the end of the game. The Sabercats' execution seemed to wear the Eagles down, as the Blue and Gold met with less and less resistance.
Emmaus tried to force the issue as their situation became more and more desperate, and Maranatha played like regional champions down the stretch. Wilkerson was strong down low in the closing minutes, as he upped his total to 14 on the day, and Sonnenberg extended his total to 20 for the first time this season.
MBU Starters: 3-Book, 11-Medina, 15-Lerma, 22-Sonnenberg, 35-Gill // EBC Starters: 23-Watson, 24-Redding, 33-Postma, 34-Williams, 55-Horan
"We were fortunate to win this game," said Coach Keith Salscheider after the game. "We didn't execute like we wanted to, and Emmaus had a lot to do with our performance. Coach Edmonson has them playing the toughest schedule in our region so far. The game could've gone either way, and we were able to knock down some shots that put us over the top. Stephen [Wilkerson] did very well coming off the bench, and Rob [Sonnenberg] led us with 20 points and that was really helpful. We had a lot of guys contribute to the performance."
- Sonnenberg: 20 points, 8 rebounds
- Wilkerson: 14 points - tying his season-best
- MBU: 4 of the starting 5 had double-digit points
- MBU: hit 50 percent shooting for the third time this year
- Rebounding: MBU 49-29 EBC
- Last year: Maranatha beat Emmaus three times, including a 100-60 win in the regional championship
- Series: Maranatha leads the series, 28-4
- The Eagles fought Faith Baptist (NCCAA North Region) on Tuesday, falling 83-87
- Emmaus lost to Grinnell College, 164-107, on November 15
- EBC has yet to win away from home this season
- Emmaus has averaged over 60 points per game this season, shooting just over 33 percent on average
The Sabercats will conclude the first part of the season on Thursday night when they travel to MSOE for a 7:00 p.m. tip. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.