ELLENDALE, North Dakota--The Faith Eagles men's basketball team has done the unthinkable. Again. With their backs against the wall and against all odds, the Eagles overcame a 21-point second-half deficit for their third consecutive come-from-behind victory in the postseason, this time in the semifinal round of the NCCAA North Regional, to beat Maranatha, 98-88 in overtime.
The Eagles once again started slow, falling behind 16-2 to start the game. The rest of the first half, like a foreshadowing of the second half, was an uphill battle. At the 11:18 mark in the first half, the Eagles had just six points, trailing 21-6 before a spirited 18-2 run gave Faith its first lead of the game with just under four minutes to play in the first half. A Maranatha jumper with four seconds to go gave the Sabercats the one-point lead at halftime.
The ball stopped going in the basket for the Eagles early in the second half. Faith went four minutes without scoring, while Maranatha built its lead to 18 points before a Chase Clark free throw broke the scoring drought.
At the 11:06 mark, Maranatha built its biggest lead of the game at 21 points.
Utilizing a tenacious full-court press, the Eagles cut into Maranatha's lead little by little, shrinking it to 14 with 7:14 to play, but time was not on Faith's side as the Sabercats held their lead steady at 15 points with just over five minutes to play. But that's when the Eagles made their run. Like most of their runs this postseason, it all started with a big three-point basket beginning with Kalab Sidlinger, whose three-pointer cut the lead to 12 with 5:02 to play.
A pair of three-pointers by freshmen Jayce Goergen and Nathan Keck eventually tied the game at 78 with 2:21 to play, and every time Maranatha would try to ice the game with a big bucket, Faith would answer. With the game tied at 82, the Sabercats had the final shot, just missing the game-winner on a five-foot jumper.
Overtime was all Eagles as they took the lead and never looked back, racing to the ten-point win.
Nathan Keck was a superstar once again for Faith, leading all scorers with 30 points. He was 12-of-15 from the free-throw line. Jayce Goergen made some huge baskets during Faith's rally and finished with 20 points. He was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. Kalab Sidlinger finished with 21 points, hitting several big shots with the game on the line. Chase Clark (9 points and 13 rebounds) and Noah Boyer (12 points and 12 rebounds) were key contributors off the bench, playing a huge role in the victory. Tanner Van Beek rounded out the scoring with 6 points.
With the win, the Eagles advance to the regional final against the winner of Trinity Bible College and Calvary University on Saturday, February 29, at 5:00 p.m. in Ellendale, ND. A win on Saturday would send the Eagles to the final round of eight at the NCCAA Division II National Tournament, March 12-14, in Joplin, Missouri.