WATERTOWN, Wis. -- Eight points in 11 seconds. That's how it all got started, as the Sabercats rallied from 18 points down to beat Martin Luther College by six points today.
Led by David Lerma's 20 points, MBU sent four student-athletes into double digits, completing their second win over MLC this season.
- Result: Maranatha 82-76 Martin Luther
- Venue: MBU Gymnasium
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 307
- Records: MBU (11-9), MLC (7-16)
To say the first half was back-and-forth would be a heavy understatement. The lead changed hands like it was hot as both teams probed for a consistent weakness.
No single student-athlete really dominated the scoring for MBU, although Rob Sonnenberg scored nine points as six different contributors made it happen for Maranatha. Both teams seemed to be making everything they looked at in the final minutes of the second half, but going into the break, the Knights had secured a 39-32 lead.
Jack Heichelbech was one problem the Sabercats faced in the second half, but so was the Sabercats' own ability to keep possession. The Knights seemed to be everywhere on the Sabercats' end of the court, and MBU had trouble finding a solution to the Knights' press. MLC built an 18-point lead at the 12-minute mark, but the Sabercats clawed their way back to 10 points with about nine minutes left.
Then with five and a half minutes remaining, the Sabercats changed everything.
David Lerma knocked down a three to reduce an 11-point lead to eight, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and found Aaron Sanders, who went up strong for the bucket and the extra shot. When his free throw hit the rim, Stephen Wilkerson grabbed the rebound and found Tyree Bruno who drained a three. One-possession game.
The Sabercats kept their foot on the gas, as a three from Bruno and a two-point jumper from Lerma tied the game, and on the next MBU possession, Sanders found Wilkerson just beyond the arc.
Swish. Sabercat lead.
That lead would hold down the stretch, as the unlikely comeback turned into a hard-earned win. But it didn't come easily. Martin Luther operated quickly and stayed tight with the Sabercats, sending them to the line without wasting much time. Bruno (three) and Lerma (one) combined for four crucial points from the stripe, and late jumpers from Wilkerson and Sonnenberg cemented the furious MBU comeback.
MBU Starters: 3-Book, 15-Lerma, 22-Sonnenberg, 23-Wilkerson, 35-Gill // MLC Starters: 3-Lindloff, 5-Eckmann, 12-Hirsch, 22-Heichelbech, 25-Eisenmann
- Lerma: third game with 20-plus points this season
- Bruno: career-high 15 points
- Wilkerson: third game in double figures in the last four games
- MBU: shot 50.9 percent from the floor
- Last meeting: Maranatha topped the Knights 62-53 in Minnesota earlier this season
- Series: Series is now tied 5-5
- Martin Luther competes in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (NCAA DIII)
- MLC currently ranks 7th/9 in the UMAC, holding a 4-10 conference record
- The Knights recently snapped an eight-game losing streak and have two wins from their last 10
The Sabercats will host Moody Bible Institute at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night for an NCCAA North Region matchup. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.