WATERTOWN, WI – From momentum changes, to clutch three’s, to a raucous crowd that shook the building—this one had it all, as the men’s basketball team weaved it’s way past the Northland International Pioneers, to narrowly defeat the visiting team, 75-73, on Friday evening.
An estimated crowd of over 700 students, faculty, and staff, and visitor fans, got what they paid for—an instant classic that wasn’t decided until three seconds left in the game, paced by a thunderous audience known as the Maranatha Crazies, that produced a deafening environment to make the stage that much bigger.
But it all began with a Northland lead of 18-8, six minutes into the game. Despite a nice start by freshman center Zach Terpstra (Barron, WI), who paced the offense in the opening minutes with several big buckets underneath, it was Northland’s aggressive play that seized a 20-10 lead with 13 minutes remaining.
The Pioneer’s lead ballooned to 14 points with just under six minutes left, but shortly after, junior center Brett Cashner’s (Urbana, IL) shot jumpstarted a methodical comeback, tracing its way down to a one-point deficit. On the next possession, freshman guard Brady Moses (Lodi, WI) took a fastbreak pass, and was fouled, where he sank a pair of free throws to cap an 18-5 run, and a 40-39 halftime lead.
The intensity ratcheted up another notch in the second half, and Northland held single-digit leads for a good portion of the game. They started by tying the game twice in the opening minutes, once at 43, and another at 45, but pulling out to a 51-45 advantage on Lewis’ second-straight three.
Freshman guard David Wenthold (Geneseo, IL) nailed a three-pointer, chopping the lead back to two, but three minutes later, Northland’s lead was back up to six. The game never was beyond a mentally tough Crusader’s squad though, which inched their way back to one, and tied it at 59, and finally, at 68-all.
The stakes were high, as Moses controlled the ball, but the freshman out of Lodi took matters into his own hands, driving past the Pioneer defender and finishing the and-one to the delight of the home fan base.
The crowd would have to wait though, due to a jumper by Lewis, putting everyone on the edge of their seat, with a 70-69 Northland lead.
Cashner once again came to the rescue, posting up, and knocking down a shot, for the 71-70 lead, and freshman guard Clayton Morrison (Jefferson, WI) bumped the score up by one, on a free throw.
Moses followed up with another signature smooth jumper, and Maranatha held a 74-70 lead with just 30 second left. Lewis would hit another three with 22 seconds left, and Northland called a timeout at 13 seconds, but the Pioneers looked to foul, out of the break, sending Terpstra to the line, where the freshman hit one out of two, with just six seconds on the clock.
The final play, with just three seconds on the clock, was a nail biter, as junior forward Jordan Harrison (Indianapolis, IN) launched a three-point attempt that rimmed out, and sent the fans into a tizzy, with a rewarding seventh win for the team.
Maranatha was led by Moses, who posted 21 points on 7-16 shooting, and Terpstra and Cashner posted 17 points apiece, down low.
With the win, Maranatha grabbed a 2-0 lead this year, and also evened the series over the past 11 games played between the two, as both teams have won six games dating back to the 2006-07 season.
Maranatha follows up the game with a match against Kuyper College, in Grand Rapids, MI, at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.