WATERTOWN, WI – The men’s basketball team are now winners of three straight, defeating the Lincoln Christian University Red Lions, 73-65, on Thursday evening, and will enter the Midwest Regional Tournament as the probable #2 seed.
Even if Maranatha does not win against region foe, Moody Bible, tomorrow night, they would still own a 4-2 record against region opponents, and hold the tie-breaker over Grace, after defeating the Tigers last Saturday.
It was Lincoln that started off the game on the attack, as the Red Lions bolted out to a 21-11 lead, courtesy of a three by senior Brian Dyal (Rockford, IL), and a pair of free throws by forward Josiah Gordon (Springfield, IL).
Maranatha responded with an impressive 18-0 run, holding their opponent scoreless for nearly seven minutes, and finding a rhythm, after a slow start. On one possession, junior guard Tanner Moses (Lodi, WI) zipped a pass to freshman center Zach Terpstra (Baron, WI) for an easy layup, and several minutes later, senior Kyle Kutz (Cambridge, WI), who would see his final home game as a Crusader, had a nice put-back for a 26-21 lead.
Senior guard Andrew McKinney (St. Charles, IA) sparked the team with an even bigger lead, stealing the ball from Lincoln, and then driving at the heart of the defense, scoring, and completing the and-one at the free-throw line.
McKinney would score again for a 31-23 cushion, and finished the game with seven points on 3-4 shooting from the field.
A minute later, freshman guard Brady Moses (Lodi, WI) sank a three, and Maranatha went to the locker room with a 34-27 advantage.
Lincoln opened up the second half with a jumper to cut it to five, but a three by junior Tanner Moses (Lodi, WI), and a layup by junior center Brett Cashner (Urbana, IL) kept Maranatha on top.
The Crusaders also improved their shooting in the second half, hitting 57% as opposed to 38% in the first half. The team also went an uncharacteristic, 1-7 from beyond the arc in the first period, yet posted a 60% three-point percentage in the second period.
The Red Lions cut it to five, twice; once at 14 minutes on a layup, and with just 48 seconds remaining in the game. Otherwise, Maranatha held double-digit leads for most of the period, and despite 18 turnovers, were able to grind out a win behind a defense that held a 41-30 edge in defensive rebounds, and had seven blocked shots.
A late push by the Red Lions never made it past the five-point deficit, as freshman guard Clayton Morrison (Jefferson, WI) sealed the game on free throws.
Terpstra finished the game with a double-double, with 16 points, and 13 rebounds, while Cashner added 15, and Tanner chipped in 13 points.
Maranatha moves on to face the Moody Bible Institute Archers, on Friday, at 4:30 p.m.