- Result: Maranatha 66-85 Emmaus
- Venue: Faith Baptist Bible College
- Attendance: 129
- Record: Sabercats finish the season at 10-14
ANKENY, Iowa -- After 40 minutes of noteworthy effort, the Sabercats' bid for a 19th NCCAA Regional title came up short at the hands of Emmaus Bible College.
The Sabercats never gave up, but in terms of finishing, the contrast between the teams was stark - Emmaus seemed to make everything they looked at while the Sabercats couldn't get their shots to fall. In one fell swoop, Emmaus won this season's rubber match, the ticket to nationals, and the NCCAA North Region title.
The Eagles came out of the gate red hot while the Sabercats were ice cold. Emmaus promptly knocked down 6 of their 9 shots while the Sabercats managed to shoot just 2-11. This opening exchange turned out to be a snapshot summary of the game as a whole. After the first quarter, Emmaus had a 9-point lead - a lead that would hold until halftime.
Maranatha got back into their groove on offense but could not stop Emmaus from recording another 23 points in the second quarter. The game had swung wide open, as the teams combined for 46 points in the second act alone.
Down 36-45, the Sabercats were in search of answers going into the break.
In the first few minutes of the second half, the Sabercats had seemed to find the solution they needed. Riding the momentum of accurate downtown shooting, the Sabercats jumped to within 1 point of the lead. MBU seemed to be conjuring up one of those second-half comebacks that they had completed a couple of different times this season.
But the momentum vanished as quickly as it came, as MBU began to fight turnovers, missed shots, and uncharacteristic impatience on offense. Emmaus saw their chance and ran with it, restoring the 9-point lead with 2 minutes on the clock.
After that flurry of hope to begin the half, the Sabercats ultimately found themselves with an 11-point mountain to climb going into the final quarter.
The sharp-shooting Eagles had forced the Sabercats' hand, so MBU had to take risks if they wanted the banner. Despite the constant pressure from MBU, Emmaus managed the game in the final act, and they extended their lead to 19 points at the sound of the final horn.
At the center of it all for Emmaus were some stalwart performances from Kristen Morry and Tiffany Williams. The duo was slated to be a threat, and they delivered when it mattered most, scoring 25 and 27 points, respectively.
---- Seniors' Send-off ----
Seniors Alexis Bueltel and Katie Bender saw their careers come to a disappointing end, but they put in veteran efforts. Bueltel went out with 14 points and 8 boards while Bender chalked 4 points and 5 rebounds to her name.
Bueltel finishes her 4-year career with 1,072 points and 669 rebounds. She ranks 8th and 4th in Maranatha program history in those respective categories. Bender passed the 500-points mark this weekend and finishes her career with 506 points and 301 rebounds.
Kelsey Johnson capped off her memorable sophomore season with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Johnson recorded double-digit points in every game except one this year, and finishes the year with 384 points.
Karley Johnson recorded a double-double with a solid 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Maisy Alldredge recorded 7 points and 1 assist from off the bench.
The Sabercats finish the season with an NCCAA record of 7-2.
Even with the loss, the Sabercats still hold a 17-10 advantage in the all-time series.
A full recap of the season will be forthcoming at mbusabercats.com.