DUNBAR, WI – Maranatha avenged an earlier loss to the Lincoln Red Lions this season, handing the #2 seed a 63-57 loss, in the 2014 NCCAA DII Midwest Region Semifinals, on Friday evening.
The Crusaders held the lead for most of the game, but went back and forth, throughout the night, against a tough Lincoln squad, that nearly pulled ahead of Maranatha in the closing minutes of the game.
The Red Lions owned a 12-11 lead, in a low scoring first few minutes of the first half, but senior forward Erin Steuerwald (Whitewater, WI) put the team back on top, with a basket, for a 13-12 lead.
Maranatha would regain the lead on a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Stacy Reinke (Clintonville, WI), and the Crusaders went to the locker room with a 30-28 lead.
Maranatha pushed the lead to seven in the opening seconds of the second half, then bolted out to a 44-34 lead, when freshman guard Courtney Dunn (Oshkosh, WI) stole a pass, and found senior Allison Schulz (Chillicothe, IL) underneath, for a basket, where Schulz was fouled, and hit the free throw.
Maranatha kept a sizable lead throughout a portion of the second, but hit a cold stretch, as Lincoln erased a 53-44 lead, and cut it to 56-55, with under three minutes remaining.
A foul on Steuerwald, who made both shots, put Maranatha up 58-55, but a bank shot by the Red Lions cut it back to one, and the head coach Clayton Morrison was forced to take a timeout with just 54 seconds left, and a 58-57 advantage.
Maranatha kept Lincoln at bay in the final seconds of the game, hitting crucial free throws down the stretch, and advancing to the Championship game, on Saturday, at 1:00 p.m., against the winner of Friday’s game between #4 Moody, and #1 Grace.