When the Marietta College women's basketball team plays at Muskingum College in an Ohio Athletic Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, seven players are expected to be suited up.
Three others on the roster - Whitney Swain, Brittany King, and Brooke Baker - are sidelined with injuries.
This was the case when the Pioneers (2-19, 0-14 OAC) dropped a 70-67 decision to visiting Heidelberg College at Ban Johnson Arena Saturday. And, apparently, the navy blue and white hasn't had a full roster for much of the season.
Needless to say, this had made preparation for games at practice a challenge.
"What we do is bring in three guys," said second-year MC women's head coach Jill Meiring. "The NCAA allows us to bring in three male practice players, who have basketball experience, to help us out. They're our scout team."
During games, all seven of the players of course see action. So, playing time has not been an issue.
"They can't complain about that," said Meiring, smiling. "I don't have to worry about that at all."
Against Heidelberg, senior point Nikki Driscoll played the entire contest, while senior wing Amanda Carraher was on the floor for 39 minutes. Even though they're young ladies, one has to ask, "Do they ever get tired?"
"A little bit," said Driscoll, who scored 11 points and dished out eight assists against The Berg. "Forty minutes is a lot, and we're getting older, too."
"Other teams see that we only have seven players, and they think they can run us," she said. "But we're in shape."
Heidelberg's roster featured 19 players in uniform.
"We're always tired, but we're used to it," said Carraher, who scored a game-high 21 points, nine in the final minute of play, against Heidelberg. "It's really tough only having seven players. Honestly. But we're used to it now."
During the Heidelberg game, Meiring was shuffling players, except for Driscoll and Carraher, in and out, trying to give them a breather and to also protect them from fouling out.
"You know, I don't think they really get tired," the Pioneer coach said. "A lot of it is mental anyways. They wanted that game enough that they weren't going to be tired. They were going to do everything they could to get back into it."
Marietta led at the break 33-30, and then stretched its advantage to double digits, 46-36, early in the second half. To Heidelberg's credit, it came back, thanks in part to a full-court press.
"We let their press kind of get to us," Driscoll said. "It's something we're going to have to work on.
"As the game went on, though, we got ourselves composed and tried our best to win it."
"We didn't handle the press very well and got down a little bit," Meiring said. "But we came back, and played hard to get back in the game.
"They didn't give up. And, I'm very proud of them for that."
Trailing by three points in the closing seconds, Marietta had an opportunity to tie the game and send it into overtime. But Driscoll's 3-point attempt was off the mark.
"I really thought that shot was going to go in, but I guess it wasn't our day," Driscoll said.
Interestingly, if Driscoll's shot had gone in, the Pioneers would've had only five players - Lizz Wilson, Jamie Beckett, Jami Thomas, Driscoll and Carraher - available for the extra session.
Both Chelsea Drake and Rachel Jones had fouled out - and Carraher had four personals on her.
But an overtime was not to be.
"There's a lot of things that we could've done a little bit better," Meiring said. "But I'll never question their effort."
The Marietta College women have four remaining OAC games on their schedule, and if they play like they did against Heidelberg Saturday, there's no reason why they can't snap a 17-game losing streak and secure a conference victory.
"We going to stay positive and together as a team and hopefully get one OAC win under our belts," Driscoll said.
Said Meiring, "I personally go into every game, thinking we can win."
n Good to see former Warren basketball and track standout Stacia Shrider, who is now a Heidelberg women's assistant basketball coach.
Last year at this time, Shrider was competing on the hardwood for the Baldwin-Wallace Yellow Jackets.
At Heidelberg College, located in Tiffin, Shrider is working on her masters degree in education.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at email@example.com.