- Result: Maranatha 63-52 Mount Mary
- Venue: Bloechl Center, Mount Mary University
- Attendance: 80
- Record: Sabercats are now 9-13
- Next Game for MBU: Friday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. - NCCAA Regional Semifinal
Bender logged a career-high 16 pts in the game. The win gives the Sabercats a winning end to their regular season and fuel for the fire as they head into the NCCAA North Regional Tournament this weekend.
A slow start put the Sabercats behind the proverbial 8-ball, as the team struggled with turnovers through the opening possessions. It took Mount Mary just over 3 minutes to secure a 9-0 lead, but the Sabercats responded with a 9-0 run of their own thanks to some heavy defensive work from the starting unit.
Bender registered 4 points in the final 12 seconds, and the Sabercats found themselves ahead, 14-11, after the opening 10-minute stretch.
The second quarter saw a back-and-forth tradeoff for the lead, as both teams struggled to gain control of the game. Karley Johnson led the charge for MBU, as the sophomore put up 8 points of her own. The Sabercats had a 9-point lead 4 minutes into the quarter, but Mount Mary eventually rallied to tie the game going into halftime, 28-28.
The third quarter was the turning point, as MBU chalked up 22 points in the quarter while shooting 50 percent from the field. Kelsey Johnson sprung into double digits, as she supplemented a mere 2 first-half points with 9 in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Karley went a perfect 4-4 from the line to help give Maranatha a 10-point lead going into the final act. MBU forced the hand of Mount Mary in the decisive 3rd quarter. Maranatha limited their hosts to 12 points and a 29.4 field-goal percentage.
When it came down to it, the Sabercats needed to manage the game until the final horn, and they did just that. As they did in the previous quarter, the Sabercats relied on their tight defense, once again limiting Mount Mary to a mere dozen points in the quarter. At the sound of the final horn, the Sabercats had effectively evened the season's series with Mount Mary and had given themselves momentum going into their bird for their 11th regional title in the last 12 years.
Karley Johnson finished the night with 17 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Sabercats in those categories. Johnson also pitched in 5 assists and 4 steals.
Bender recorded a career-high 16 points and added 3 rebounds in the game.
Kelsey Johnson recorded 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The Sabercats shot 40.7 percent from the floor. MBU has not lost a game this season when shooting 40 percent or better.
With the win, the Sabercats now hold a 24-9 advantage in the all-time series.
The Sabercats have concluded the regular season and will begin NCCAA Regional play at 2 p.m. Friday in the semifinal matchup. The Sabercats are seeded as the #2 team and their opponent will be either #3 Trinity Bible College (N.D.) or #6 Calvary University.
Catch the details of live game coverage for these games at mbusabercats.com/composite.