No. 13 Pioneers upset by Blue Streaks, 93-82

Marietta College’s Dillon Young (1) goes up for a basket during a college men’s basketball game against John Carroll Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena in Marietta. Photo courtesy of Nate Knobel.

Marietta College got outplayed in the second half.

The nationally-ranked Pioneers squandered a 19-point first half advantage en route to a 93-82 setback to John Carroll University in an Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball game at Ban Johnson Arena Saturday afternoon.

“A 19-point lead against John Carroll is like a four-point lead against somebody else,” said 11th-year MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “I mean, the tide can turn so fast. It happens all the time in John Carroll games. They get up big or down big, and it ends up being a close game.”

Before tip-off, Marietta, now 6-2 overall and1-2 OAC, was No. 13-ranked in the men’s top 25 poll. JCU improved its mark to 6-1 and 2-1.

“We don’t have 6-8 guys, or guys that can jump over the backboard,” said first-year Blue Streaks’ boss Pete Moran. “But we have 20 guys who are gritty. They come ready to play and they play hard. They showed that tonight by their grittiness and how hard they played.

“We’re not the biggest trees in the forest, but you know what? Our guys get after it, and I love their heart. Their effort showed.”

Jimmy Berger tallied 19 points to pace six Blue Streak double-digit scorers. John Cirillo added 15 markers. Ryan Berger and Sean Flannery each had 12, while Matthew Csuhran and Antonio Vuyancih chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively.

Sparked by non-starters’ Flannery and Csuhran, the JCU bench outpointed MC’s, 33-14.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces and lot of guys that were hurt last year,” Moran said. “We still haven’t figured out our identity yet.”

Dillon Young and Anthony Wallace led the Pioneers with 19 points apiece. Avery Williams posted a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Kyle Dixon and Caleb Hoyng each netted 10 and nine markers, respectively.

Young and Wallace each had 12 points to stake MC to a 49-41 first-half advantage. At the 6:23 mark, Hoyng’s layup gave the Pioneers a 19-point bulge (41-22). Then, with 5:25 left before the break, Wallace’s two freebies helped maintain Marietta’s19-point cushion (43-24).

But after that, John Carroll slowly but surely whittled away at the deficit, and outpointed Marietta, 17-6, to trail by just eight at the intermission.

“We executed our game plan to perfection in the first half,” VanderWal said. “Guys were moving really fast. We were making all the plays.”

Moran agreed and added, “Jon VanderWal, the guy does a phenomenal job. And, they made a lot of shots early.”

The JCU coach further stated, “At halftime, we just told the guys to keep chipping away, keep chipping away.”

At the beginning of the second half, Vuyancih drove and scored. Berger followed with a putback, and after Cirillo also scored on a stickback to cut it to one, the Pioneers called timeout.

“In the second half, we just stopped moving fast and started moving really slow defensively,” VanderWal said. “We gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the second half and we couldn’t keep them off the glass.”

“We had six turnovers at halftime and 10 in the second half,” the MC coach added. “The difference in the game is that we had way too many turnovers in the second half and gave up to many offensive rebounds.”

Marietta finished the contest with 16 turnovers, while fullcourt-pressing John Carroll had nine.

“That’s their philsophy,” said VanderWal of JCU pressing the entire game. “And they’re great at it.”

On the offensive glass, the Pioneers ended up with eight bounds, while the Blue Streaks had 19.

“They’re not big at all,” VanderWal said. “They battle, and they were more aggressive to the basketball than we were.”

At the 11:25 mark, JCU finally caught MC and took its first lead, 66-64, since very early in the contest on Cirillo’s triple.

Marietta came right back, though, and tied it on Williams’ bucket.

The Pioneers led 70-66 with 9:10 to go. But the Blue Streaks came back to knot the score a fifth time in the contest and then regained the advantage, 72-70, on Vuyancih’s layup with about eight minutes left.

MC stayed close for the next few minutes but never got the lead back after that.

“I thought we did a good job of weathering the storm, and in the second half, I think our pressure got to them a little bit,” Moran said. “They started turning the ball over, and they weren’t taking good shots. And, we were getting good looks at the rim.

“You don’t wear down Marietta. They’re too good. They didn’t make shots in the second half, and we did. Down the stretch, we made some foul shots, and things went our way.”