DUBUQUE, Iowa -- In a high-strung semifinal, the Sabercats punched their ticket to the NCCAA North Region Championship, and it was anything but easy.
Callie Morrison and Jacklyn Simpson both scored 21 points. It was a career-high for Simpson, and Morrison came through in the clutch when it mattered most. With the win, MBU takes on #2 Providence tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. for the region crown.
- Result: #1 Maranatha 74-68 #4 Emmaus
- Venue: Pollard Fieldhouse, Emmaus Bible College
- Location: Dubuque, Iowa
- Attendance: 137
- Records: MBU (16-6), EBC (11-14)
The first quarter showed that this game would be a close one from start to finish, and both teams were executing offensively. Maranatha scored five points from the line in the first quarter, and Rosa Torres and Callie Morrison led the way from the floor, scoring seven and six points respectively.
After taking an 18-16 lead into the second, the Sabercats orchestrated a 10-0 run to start the second act, jumping out to a 12-point lead. That hot start would hold, more or less, until the halftime horn sounded. Things were going MBU's way, as they led by nine going into the break.
After a big third quarter put the Sabercats up 58-47, Emmaus had some work to do, and they were gunning for the title defense.
The Eagles' persistence paid off eventually in the fourth quarter, as they earned a seesaw finish for their efforts. EBC restored the lead to the tune of 63-62 with just over four minutes left. But a huge three-point play from Kelsey Johnson and a short jumper from Torres put MBU back on top at 67-65. Inside the final two minutes, Emmaus hit a go-ahead three-pointer, and it was anyone's game. The ball was in the Sabercats' hands, and with just over a minute left, Karley Johnson dished it out to a wide-open Morrison for a corner three.
Morrison had her range locked, and she would need it from the line after drawing a foul with 22 seconds left. With the game hanging in the balance, Morrison calmly drained a couple of free throws to put MBU up by four points.
Emmaus couldn't connect going the other way, and when Simpson grabbed a crucial defensive board and drew a foul with 10 seconds left, the game was almost won. Simpson's two conversions from the charity stripe were two of 24 on the day, and the Sabercats cemented their 11th consecutive win with the season on the line.
MBU Starters: 3-Morrison, 12-Johnson, 13-Johnson, 23-Torres, 32-Simpson // EBC Starters: 1-Kimble, 21-Harding, 23-Kerttula, 25-Gelinas, 44-Williams
- Morrison: now has double-digit points in 15 consecutive games
- Simpson: 21 points is a career high
- Torres: 12 points
- Rebounding: MBU 38-24 MMU
- Last time: Maranatha edged Emmaus in Dubuque 69-68
- Series: Maranatha leads the series 21-8
- The Eagles compete in the NCCAA DII and the Midwest Christian Colleges Conference
- EBC took home the regional title last year - it was their first title in program history and they beat MBU in the championship
- The Eagles end their 2018-19 season with an 11-13 record
The Sabercats will face #2 Providence in tomorrow's championship. Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.