IOWA FALLS - Their debut as a top-25 ranked team left a little (rebounding) to be desired.
The Marshalltown Community College men's basketball team, which on Monday appeared at No. 21 on the NJCAA's Division I rankings, saw its unbeaten start stopped by an Ellsworth CC comeback Wednesday night.
MCC's 44-29 halftime lead was not enough to discourage the host Panthers from putting together a thrilling come-from-behind win, scoring the go-ahead putback bucket with 1.1 seconds left in an 80-79 victory.
Ellsworth (6-3) quickly erased Marshalltown's healthy halftime advantage with a fast start out of the intermission, and the Panthers even pulled ahead by as many as nine with 7 minutes remaining.
Marshalltown (11-1) made its move back to the lead, going up four with 2 minutes left. But the Tigers "just couldn't come up with that last rebound," head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson said, and Ellworth kept its last chance alive long enough to find a putback attempt that dropped.
"You've got to give Ellsworth a lot of credit, they threw that first jab in the second half and they started making baskets," added Brynjarsson. "We clawed back in it and led but we just couldn't finish them off."
Chris Caird scored a team-high 23 points for MCC, but complete game statistics were not made available.
MCC goes to Freeport, Ill., on Dec. 14-15 for the William R. Bear Classic, a tournament hosted by Highland Community College. The Tigers open up tournament play against Lake Land College.