- Result: Maranatha 54-56 Martin Luther
- Venue: Martin Luther College
- Attendance: 127
- Record: Sabercats are now 6-4
- Next Game for MBU: Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at Dayspring Bible
NEW ULM, Minn. -- The Sabercats came storming back in the second half tonight but were denied a winning start to 2018 by just 2 points.
The Sabercats fell by a score of 54-56 to the Martin Luther College Knights. This was the second time in as many seasons that the Knights defended their home floor in a one-possession game against MBU.
Maranatha needed to shake off some Christmas-break rust in the first half, as they were off of their game to get things started. The Sabercats shot a season-low 25 percent from the floor and went 0-4 from downtown en route to posting just 17 points in the first half. For the Sabercats, this was their worst offensive showing of the season so far.
At the other end, the Knights were grinding out the lead, as they out-shot and out-rebounded the Sabercats to take a 12-point advantage going into halftime. MLC's Richard Eckmann led all scorers with 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
Going into the locker room with a 17-29 deficit, the Sabercats were searching for answers.
A 14-7 run to start the second half indicated that the Sabercats were headed in the right direction, and when Matt Gill knocked down a free throw to tie the game at 43 with 8:40 on the clock, the Sabercats appeared to be in the driver's seat.
From that point on, the Sabercats grabbed a 4-point lead twice in the final 5 minutes, but the Knights refused to be denied. After a frantic, back-and-forth final 3 minutes, the Knights came out on top by a 2-point margin.
After a 17-29 first half, the Sabercats won the second half 37-27.
David Lerma led the scoring for MBU with 16 points on the night. He was the only Sabercat in double figures.
Austin DeNoyer had what turned out to be the game-winning bucket. DeNoyer led all scorers with 17 points.
Micah Shepard logged 7 points and 9 boards.
The Sabercats shot 35.6 percent from the field - their second-lowest performance of the season.
The Knights now lead the all-time series, 3-6.
THE SOUND BITE
"It's good to be back playing basketball," said head coach Keith Salscheider after the game. "We did not shoot well tonight, and that hurt us - we didn't come ready to play in the first half, and that was the story of the game. We had two plays that didn't go our way for a variety of reasons, and we ended up losing the game in the last two minutes. We've got a lot to improve on and take home and we'll work to improve."
The Sabercats will return to action against Dayspring Bible next Tuesday at 7 p.m. Catch the details at mbusabercats.com/composite.