DUNBAR, WI – The Crusaders started in an early hole against the Northland International University Pioneers on Thursday night, but came all the way back to a one-point deficit at halftime, before falling in a close second half, 53-48.
Maranatha trailed by a score of 15-4 in the first period, at the 9:42 minute mark, but used a solid offensive rebounding performance, as well as hitting enough jump shots, to pull to within 24-23 when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first period.
What ensued in the second period was an entertaining battle between two squads, looking for a win against their arch rival.
The Pioneers maintained a slim margin in the early goings of the second period, but watched as a resilient Crusaders’ squad, without their top star, Laci Peterson (Chillicothe, IL), tie it at 28-all on a three by senior guard Allison Schulz (Chillicothe, IL). The Crusaders then took a one-point lead on a free throw by freshman forward Rachel Wells (Danville, IL).
Maranatha extended Northland’s deficit to 35-30 when sophomore forward Stacy Reinke (Clintonville, WI) hit a long two, but the Pioneers used a trip to the charity stripe to cut it back to 35-32. Second-chance scoring opportunities, and rebounds kept the lady Crusaders in the game, as players like freshman guard Julie Roer (Marinette, WI), and others, hit open jumpers.
But slowly and surely, the Pioneers used the bonus at 12 minutes to go the foul line, and eventually found themselves back up, at 36-35. The Pioneers found breathing room with a layup that boosted the lead to 38-35, but on two straight possessions, freshman guard Courtney Dunn (Oshkosh, WI) found Steuerwald (Whitewater, WI) underneath, leading to just a 40-39 deficit.
After a wide open jumper by Northland, Maranatha trailed 44-41, but Steuerwald once again came to the rescue, hitting another bucket underneath, and keeping Maranatha within that one-point threshold.
Roer would tie the game again at 48 apiece, but ultimately, the Crusaders fell victim to several big shots by Northland, the last of which was a huge three with 42 seconds left that led to a Pioneer timeout.
Despite a Pioneer turnover with 14 seconds left, the home team found a way to pick Maranatha’s pocket on the inbounds pass underneath with three seconds remaining, and iced the game on free throws to end a 13-game win streak by Maranatha against the Pioneers.
The Crusaders look for a win against Mount Mary, on Friday, January 31, at home, at 8:00 p.m.