Sports Talk: J.O. is your man when the game’s on the line

J.O. is his nickname.

J.O. as in Jacob Owens.

Thing is, Owens’ moniker could also be K.O.

That’s K.O. as in knockout.

On the Jon VanderWal-coached Marietta College men’s basketball team, which is scheduled to host Wilmington College in an Ohio Athletic Conference game at 3 p.m. Saturday, J.O. is Mr. K.O.

That’s because Owens has a knack for knocking out opponents from long distance in the final seconds of play on the hardwood.

This past Wednesday night at The Capital Center Gymnasium in Columbus, Owens helped deliver a 69-68 MC win with a clutch, buzzer-beating three while fading away from the top of the key as time expired.

After the game-winner, he was mobbed.

Same thing happened about a year ago when Owens’ trifecta from the left corner enabled the Pioneers to rally and defeat Otterbein University, 64-61, at Ban Johnson Arena.

“It bounced around,” said the 5-foot-8 Owens after the Otterbein win. “But I had a real good look at the rim, and if I see the rim, I’m going to knock it down.”

As a non-starter in that game, Owens had 15 points on five triples.

Against Capital, the senior sharpshooter started, and led the Pioneers with 17 points.

Owens actually has been knocking ’em down on a regular basis his entire Marietta College basketball career, but especially in the last two contests.

Going back a week ago, Owens has made nine of his last 10 shots from three-point range. Against visiting John Carroll University, he was a perfect six of six from behind the arc and seven of seven overall for a team-high 20 points.

“This is the first game I’ve ever been perfect in my career,” said Owens after MC’s 81-70 triumph over the Blue Streaks.

So what does Owens do for an encore?

He makes three of four threes against Capital, including the walk-off bank.

Now, the question begs to be asked, “Did he call that shot off the glass?”

Probably not, because he didn’t have enough time to.

All the more sweeter, with the win against Capital, Marietta (12-4 overall, 8-1 OAC) is now atop the OAC standings with the Cruaders (11-5, 8-1).

Owens may or may not have the hot hand against the Quakers, who the Pioneers beat 64-57 in the first meeting on Dec. 8, 2012. That remains to be seen.

If he doesn’t, that’s OK, because Marietta has quite an impressive arsenal of shooters in J.J. Martin, Tyler Hammond, Brennan McKean, Scott Kimmey, and Tyler Worstell to name but a few, who are all very capable of hitting a last-second, winning shot.

Of course, VanderWal is hoping it doesn’t come to that – a last-second shot – against Wilmington.

But if it does.

Get the ball to J.O. for the K.O.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com