JOPLIN, Mo. -- It was a nervy NCCAA DII National Quarterfinal, but the Sabercats came in clutch when it mattered most, holding off Champion Christian 62-57.
With the win, the Sabercats will face the winner of #6 Bob Jones and #3 Grace Christian on Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the NCCAA National Semifinal
- Result: #2 Maranatha 62-57 #7 Champion
- Venue: Ozark Christian College
- Location: Joplin, Mo.
- Attendance: 121
- Record: MBU (19-3), CCC (19-9)
The opening minutes were cagey. After the nerves died down, Callie Morrison got things going for the Sabercats with eight points, leading them out to a 16-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers shot the three to stay within striking distance, and they tied the game up at 27 with just under three minutes left in the half. Late buckets from Karley Johnson and Kelsey Johnson closed the half out to give MBU a 31-29 lead, but the Tigers had come back from nine points behind.
Champion took the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but Karley and Kelsey responded by combining for eight points - six from Karley - to keep the game close in the following minutes. Champion held the edge in the nervy quarterfinal, and they took a 47-44 lead into the final act.
But just when it was do or die, the Sabercats did.
The game came right down to the wire, and the Sabercats shared the responsibility when they needed to most. Key buckets from Kelsey and Krysten Lawver, and clutch free throws from Katelyn Morrison and Karley pushed the Sabercats ahead in the final minutes, marking a fitting end to a gritty opening match of the national tournament.
MBU Starters: 3- C. Morrison, 12- Ka. Johnson, 13- Ke. Johnson, 25- K. Morrison, 30- Lawver
- Karley: 21 PTS, 12 REB
- Callie: 11 PTS, 12 REB, 4 AST
- Kelsey: 14 PTS, 4 REB
- Lawver: 10 PTS, 4 REB
- Series: This was the first-ever matchup in the series
- Champion is a first-year intercollegiate program
- Champion recently fell to #1 Arlington Baptist in the ACCA National Championship
- Champion qualified for Nationals as an at-large selection
The Sabercats will take on the winner of #6 Bob Jones and #3 Grace Christian in the NCCAA National Semifinal Friday at 4:00 p.m. Find details at mbusabercats.com/schedule.