DUBUQUE, Iowa -- In a thrilling regional championship, the Sabercats held off #2 Providence 78-67 to reclaim their place at the NCCAA DII National Tournament.
The 78-point showing was the most points that the Sabercats have scored in a single game this season. The Sabercats will now await their seeding for the national finale, which will be announced Sunday night.
- Result: #1 Maranatha 78-67 #2 Providence
- Venue: Pollard Fieldhouse, Emmaus Bible College
- Location: Dubuque, Iowa
- Attendance: 171
- Records: MBU (17-6), PUC (16-10)
Everyone was connecting for Maranatha in the opening minutes, as the Sabercats tore out to an 11-0 lead before Providence knew what was happening.
But once Providence was woken up, they began to find their rhythm, controlling the middle stages of the quarter to come within five. But after a timeout from Coach Morrison and consecutive three-pointers from Rosa Torres and Callie Morrison, the Sabercats had a 25-17 lead to finish the first quarter.
The second quarter was almost as productive as the first for MBU, as they once against scored over 20 points to take a 10-point lead into the locker room (46-36). Torres led the way with 13 points, Kelsey Johnson had 11, and Morrison added five points and six assists. The Sabercats were shooting at a clip of just under 50 percent, and they were controlling the rhythm of the game going into the second half.
Providence proved their worth in the third, as they mounted a 10-4 charge to come within three points inside the final minute. That comeback would send the message to the Sabercats: the final act wasn't going to be easy. It was crunch time, and the Sabercats stayed alert and active, outplaying the Pilots when the pressure was on. It seemed like the Pilots couldn't get a single free look, as the Sabercats' defense worked the Pilots down through the opening stages of the fourth quarter.
But once again, the Pilots gave Maranatha a scare, coming back to within three points with just over a minute left in the game. The Sabercats needed something quick, and when Morrison found space from three-point range, everyone in the gym knew what would happen next.
The freshman had a free look at a three-pointer from the left side, and with just over a minute left, she connected what could be the most important shot of the season to hit Providence with a dagger.
From there, the Sabercats put the game on ice from the line, scoring eight points from free throws to reclaim the title of North Region Champions.
MBU Starters: 3-Morrison, 12-Johnson, 13-Johnson, 23-Torres, 32-Simpson // PUC Starters: 2-Thiessen, 3-Schwarz, 5-Goodbrandson, 8-Zajac, 9-Van Schie
- Morrison: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists
- Morrison: now has double-digit points in 16 consecutive games
- Kelsey Johnson: 21 points and 18 rebounds
- Torres: 13 points
- MBU: Extends their program-record winning streak to 12 games
- Last time: Maranatha beat Providence 77-34 in February of 2017
- Series: Maranatha leads the series 1-0
- The Pilots compete in the Canadian CCAC as well as the NCCAA DII
- PUC had an NCCAA record of 6-1 coming into this game
- The Pilots' defense is the third-best in the NCCAA, allowing just 45.6 points per game
The Sabercats will now await the seedings for the NCCAA DII National Tournament. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.