WATERTOWN, WI – The Maranatha men’s basketball team stood their ground against the Aurora Spartans, losing 86-70, in a game that where visiting Spartans, the #2-ranked team in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, had a tough time putting away a much improved Crusader team on Monday night.
Last year, Maranatha lost 108-52 against the Spartans, however, with a starting five that had just two individuals from last year, the Crusaders kept within striking range throughout the evening.
The Spartans and Crusaders shook off the rust in the opening minutes to tie Aurora on a pair of free throw shots by senior forward Scott Sutter (Cincinnati, OH), at 9-9, and would later take a 14-13 lead on a Sutter three, at 11:43 left in the first period.
Maranatha was able to find center Brett Cashner (Urbana, IL) in the post on several occasions, one of which gave Maranatha their biggest lead of the half, at 23-18, as the 6-6 junior would finish the game with an efficient, 15 points on 7-9 shooting from the field, along with six rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes.
But only moments after Cashner gave Maranatha a five-point lead, Aurora went on a 8-0 run in the span of just over a minute, giving the Spartans a 26-23 lead at 6:23 remaining.
Cashner cut the lead back to 30-27 on another nice layup in the paint, but Aurora would head into the halftime break with a 35-28 lead.
Aurora slowly kept Maranatha at bay in the second half, but had a difficult time doing so, as their lead would not hit double-digits but once at 14:43 and halfway through the second period.
Junior guard Tanner Moses (Lodi, WI) nailed a three-pointer on the team’s first possession in the second period, for just a 35-31 deficit, and brother, Brady, would get fouled on a made jumper, nailing the free-throw to keep the margin at four.
The Maranatha defense out-rebounded Aurora, 25-20 in the second half, and also notched five steals, to the Spartans’ one. On one of those steals, freshman guard Clayton Morrison (Jefferson, WI) used his ball-hawking abilities to pick off a pass at midcourt, then found Cashner who dished an assist to Tanner Moses, for a transition basket.
In the end though, Aurora hit just enough of their free throws and shots to hold the Crusaders off, who now have a 2-7 record overall.
Brady Moses led the team with 17 points on 5-10 shooting from the field, while also going 6-7 from the free throw line. Moses also grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists and had a steal.
Maranatha will resume play on Thursday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. against Martin Luther, in an away game at New Ulm, MN.