Both teams started slow for a 9-9 tie, but the tide slowly turned in Northland’s favor, as the Pioneers garnered a 22-14 lead with 6:51 left in the first.
The second half proved a different story than the first, as each Northland lead was met with a clutch three by a scrappy group of Crusaders.
On one occasion, junior forward Scott Sutter (Cincinnati, Ohio) hit two straight three’s to knot the game up at 42, then senior guard Matthew McGivern (Milwaukee, Wis.) hit a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 55.
Maranatha was on fire from three-point range, shooting 61%, while heaving up 28 shots. Northland, meanwhile, went down low and to the free throw line often—29 times, which became a deciding factor in the game.
Northland’s Josh Conover, who finished with 26 points, hit a big three for a 66-60 lead, but with 1:16 left, Maranatha chipped the lead back down to 68-65 on another Sutter three.
The Pioneers would not be turned aside though, as Conover stole an inbounds pass, then was fouled, sending him to the line for two with just 35 seconds left.
Northland sealed the game on free throws as Maranatha finishes its regular season at 5-20, and 3-4 in the NCCAAII.
McGivern and sophomore guard Tanner Moses (Lodi, Wis.) finished with 12 and 13 points respectively while senior forward Joel Borchardt, who was not at full strength, managed 14 rebounds in over 30 minutes.
The team travels to Grand Rapids on Thursday, February 21 for the NCCAAII Midwest Region Tournament. The first game takes place at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday and concludes with a 3:00 championship game on Saturday.