Nail-Biter in Rockford

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson
Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson

LEAD

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- The Sabercats came close late on tonight, but they couldn't get past the Rockford University Regents.

Stephen Wilkerson racked up 19 points and Josh Davis had 14 from off the bench but it wasn't enough for the Sabercats' first win of the season.

OVERVIEW

  • Result: Maranatha 68-77 Rockford
  • Venue: Seaver Center, Rockford University
  • Location: Rockford, Ill.
  • Attendance: 149
  • Records: MBU (0-2), RU (1-1)

STORY

The Sabercats had trouble dealing with the Regents' quick ball movement early in the game, as Rockford jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the opening three minutes.

It took a while for the Sabercats to find their groove at the other end of the floor, but 11 first-half points from Stephen Wilkerson and 11 bench points from Josh Davis kept the Sabercats in the game. Both teams relied on their deep shooting inside the final three minutes of the first half, as they traded three-pointers down the stretch. Davis came up big for MBU inside the final thirty seconds, as he grabbed an offensive rebound and spun around for a layup, then drew a foul at the opposite end of the court to hit a free throw with 00:02 on the clock.

Thanks to the three late points from the freshman, the Sabercats had made it a one-point game going into the break.

Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but the second half bucked that trend on both sides. Rockford kept the Sabercats at an arm's length, but the Sabercats made it interesting inside the final five minutes. Wilkerson played the clutch role and converted four points in a 45-second span to keep it at a one-point game, but the Regents forced turnovers when the game was on the line.

The Sabercats put themselves in a position to win it late on, but they were just missing the connections they needed and were hard-pressed to find a way through the Rockford defense.

In the final minute, the Regents managed the game the way they needed to, sealing the hard-earned win inside the Seaver Center. Nathaniel Shead had 25 points for the hosts, and his player of the game performance helped the Regents to their first win of the 2019-20 season.

--

MBU Starters: 2- Ball, 3- Mayhak, 5- Sanders, 13- Caldwell, 23- Wilkerson

SOUND BITE

"We want to congratulate Coach Reigle on the win - he's gotten his team prepared and they played well tonight," said Coach Joel Borchardt after the game. "We actually rebounded well off of Tuesday's game. . . our guys responded well to that and just came ready to play - we just couldn't quite match [our first half] in the second half. I take the blame for that - I haven't really prepared our guys for these real-game situations like being down by one point with three minutes left. So we hope to continue to improve and respond well to this and it's definitely something to build off of in the future."

STATS

  • Wilkerson: 19 PTS, 6 REB
  • Davis: 14 PTS, 6 REB
  • Aaron Sanders: 13 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
  • Nathaniel Shead (RU): 25 PTS  
  • Last time: The last matchup was January 26, 2013, when Rockford won 88-78 in overtime at home
  • Series: Rockford leads the all-time series 9-1

OPPONENTS

  • Rockford competes in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA DIII)
  • Rockford opened the season with a 64-74 non-conference loss to Carroll (Midwest Conference) last Friday
  • Rockford finished last season with a 12-14 record and earned a first-round berth in the NACC Tournament

NEXT

The Sabercats will travel to Northland College for a 3:00 p.m. tipoff Saturday. Follow at mbusabercats.com/schedule.

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