Preceding the loss to Grace, Maranatha had defeated Northland International 65-61 in the Midwest Regional Tournament opening round, the second win over the Pioneers in less than three weeks.
The team finished 5-5 on the season in the NCCAAII, with all wins against Midwest Region opponents.
The Crusaders were forced to play a faster paced game after the departures of post player Josh Stein and guard Brendan Brown, who led the team in rebounding and points respectively.
Several players took leadership and stepped up to the plate, making significant contributions to the team.
One player, junior forward Joel Borchardt (Watertown, Wis.), was recently selected to the 1st Team NCCAAII Midwest All-Region Team and Northern Athletics All-Sportsmanship Team.
Borchardt averaged 12 points a game on 46% field goal shooting while grabbing 8.8 rebounds a game (2nd, NAC).
Borchardt’s sound defensive play often set the tone for a team that finished 6th in the NCCAAII in points allowed (70.7) against all opponents.
Junior guard Matt Hunter (Pontiac, Ill.) was second on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) and junior guard Matt McGivern (Milwaukee, Wis.) broke the school assists record of 260, formerly held by Josh Burch.
Playing in the Northern Athletics Conference may have yielded a winless campaign, but the Crusaders inspired play in several games nearly brought home a victory.
One example was a 59-57 overtime loss to a Benedictine squad that finished the season atop the Southern Division and #2 in the NAC Tournament.
In a matchup against the eventual NAC Champions, Edgewood College, Maranatha lost 72-59. The Crusaders trailed by one point in the second period before being hit by foul troubles, in an otherwise close game.
Maranatha also lost by seven to Rockford College and had two tough losses against Dominican, the latter coming on a season-ending 65-64 score.
Looking ahead to next season, the men’s team has no seniors departing the team, and with the recent start-up of the JV program, looks to improve a very young squad.