WATERTOWN, Wis. -- In a tightly contested game in basically every aspect, the Sabercats shared the load in a big upset win tonight.
Maranatha had four student-athletes contribute double-digit points as they reversed a 30-point loss to Lincoln Christian from earlier in the season.
- Result: Maranatha 79-77 Lincoln Christian
- Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 237
- Record: MBU (10-10), LCU (8-20)
The Sabercats hit the ground running, posting a 10-2 run right out of the gate to make LCU doubt the idea that this would be another mismatch. Taylor Ball put up eight points by himself in the first three minutes, and LCU needed a timeout to collect their breath.
From there, LCU went on a 15-6 run of their own to take the lead, and the closeness of the game was predicted at that point. From then until halftime, the game remained a two- or one-possession game. Ball and Stephen Wilkerson both logged 10 points in the first half while Aaron Sanders grabbed nine of his own. Sanders and Wilkerson combined to go 10-10 from the free-throw line, and going into halftime, the Red Lions held just a one-point lead.
As it turned out, the Sabercats needed their free throws to stay even, as LCU's shooting performance in the first half was noticeably better.
Then in the second half, the Sabercats played some lockdown defense en route to flip-flopping the teams' performances. The Sabercats were smarter with shot selection in the second half, as they upped their percentage from 31 to 46, and down the stretch, they needed to make every shot count.
The visitors held a brief lead with under 10 minutes to play, but the Sabercats connected key shots at key times in the closing two minutes to hold the Red Lions off and take the upset win. Zeke Steuerwald sealed the deal with a couple of free throws and a big offensive rebound and layup in the closing seconds, and when Lincoln Christian's final shot failed to connect, the upset was finally complete after 40 minutes of hard work on the MBU campus.
"Just want to give a lot of credit to Coach Aeilts and his team," said Coach Joel Borchardt after the game. "He's got a good team, and they're tough to defend. But I want to give our guys a lot of credit as well - they came out knowing how to play and they came ready to play. It's certainly exciting to see the growth these guys have shown this season. So really proud of these guys to play a really good game and pull out the win. We're really excited to see where we're going to go from here."
MBU Starters: 2- Ball, 3- Mayhak, 4- Steuerwald 5- Sanders, 23- Wilkerson
- Ball: 18 PTS, 8 REB
- Steuerwald: 18 PTS, 6 REB
- Sanders: 17 PTS, 11 REB (career-high)
- MBU: Shot 33 percent in the first half; 49 percent in the second
- Last year: The Red Lions won
- Series: Maranatha now leads the all-time series 27-15
- Lincoln Christian competes in the NAIA as an independent institution
- Lincoln Christian recently picked up wins over Emmaus Bible and Moody Bible
- Lincoln Christian competes in the NCCAA DI and used to compete in the Sabercats' NCCAA DII region
The Sabercats will host Holy Family College on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Find details at mbusabercats.com/schedule.