Power surge leads Marietta men to a win
Pios survive outage, VanderWal gets 200th win
The Marietta College men’s basketball team has shot the lights out plenty of times at Ban Johnson Arena before, but nothing like this.
The No. 25-ranked Pioneers defeated Ohio Northern 90-86 Saturday, but not before a power outage with seven minutes left in the first half caused a three-hour, 39-minute delay. Marietta (10-3) trailed 28-20 when the lights went out, but took over when they came back on at 7 p.m., outscoring the Polar Bears 22-10 to take a 42-38 lead at halftime.
Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal, who secured his 200th career win with the victory, had never seen anything so unusual in a basketball game.
“Nothing ever like it,” he said. “I was perturbed because we had to fix the net in the beginning. That drove me nuts that we had to wait two minutes to get the net fixed. I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal when we had to wait several hours to resume the game.”
After both teams cleared the floor, the Pioneers discussed the importance of coming out strong when the game restarted.
“We talked during the break, ‘We have to win this seven minutes,'” VanderWal said. “If we lose the seven minutes, now we’re down double digits. Not only did we win the seven minutes, but we got it to a four-point lead (at halftime.) In that stretch, we outrebounded them by five and we made some plays. That was huge. That gave us some confidence going into halftime.”
Kyle Dixon played a huge role in Marietta’s win, scoring a career-high 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
“Coach took us to get something to eat, kept us calm and focused,” the MC junior said.
“We were able to go back to the dorm and just kind of hang out for a little bit. I think we did a good job of preparing ourselves to come back out and play. That first seven minutes we came out and went on a big run there to take the lead before the half. That was big.”
Dixon was 11 for 14 from the floor.
“A lot of it was my teammates doing a good job of getting me into open spots,” he said. “Ant (Wallace) had a couple great assists to me to get me wide open. The big guys were setting unbelievable screens for me. Phenomenal screens. I was able to come off those and have a lot of space to make a play.”
Added VanderWal, “Kyle Dixon was huge.
“He had it going. We kept going to him and he kept making the plays. We were really impressed with him.”
Marietta entered Saturday a game behind Ohio Northern, Baldwin Wallace and John Carroll for first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings. JCU and BW both won Saturday and sit atop the conference with 5-1 records, while MC, ONU, Mount Union and Muskingum all are a game back at 4-2. The Pioneers travel to Mount Union at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s definitely a big confidence booster for everybody that we got this big of a win,” Dixon said.
Marietta also got 14 points and three assists from Wallace, 13 points and five boards from Avery Williams and 11 points, six rebounds and six assists from Dillon Young.
The Polar Bears got big contributions from three players — Ryan Bruns had a game-high 32 points to go along with seven boards an three blocks; Nate Burger tallied 25 points and dished out nine assists; and Joey DiOrio went 6 for 9 from beyond the arc for 18 points. The trio accounted for 75 of the team’s 86 points.
With 9:35 left in the game, Burger scored seven straight points to put ONU up 66-60. Marietta battled back, and Young’s 3 at the 4:27 mark put MC ahead 76-75.
Ohio Northern’s next basket came from Bruns with 2:12 to go, but by then the Pioneers were already up 84-77 and on their way to victory.
In his 11th season, VanderWal improved to 200-93 as coach of the Marietta men.
“I wasn’t really really thinking about it,” VanderWal said. “It’s a neat milestone. It doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s nice to say, but I’m worried about Mount Union.”
Dixon had high praise for his coach.
“I think he’s the best coach in the nation, honestly,” he said. “Our coaching staff in general puts in so many hours across the week to put us in good positions. That many wins, it’s phenomenal. It really is.”