College basketball: Pioneers defeat Raiders

One sign of a great heavyweight fighter is one who can take his opponent’s best punch and still manage to fight back in the end to get the win.

The Marietta College Pioneers played like true heavyweights Wednesday night as they withstood an outstanding Mount Union shooting performance from behind the arc to down the Purple Raiders 97-90 in front of more than a 1,000 fans at Ban Johnson Arena in an Ohio Athletic Conference shootout.

The Purple Raiders connected on 15-of-28 shots from behind the arc, but still came up short in their attempt to upset the Pioneers.

“They (Mount Union) were throwing it in from everywhere out there tonight,” said Pioneer head coach John VanderWal of the Purple Raiders. “They have a talented team and they all had it going tonight.”

Marietta College wasn’t too shabby itself from long range as it connected on 12-of-25 three-points shots of its own, including seven-of-11 in the second half.

After Saturday’s loss to Baldwin Wallace, VanderWal elected to mix up his starting lineup up a bit for Ohio Northern, as leading scorer J.J. Martin was on the bench at the games outset.

Martin responded by dropping in a career-high 33 points in the game, including 18 in the second half.

“J.J had a great game tonight,” said VanderWal of Martin, who connected on 11-of-16 field goal attempts in the game, including four from behind the arc. “He was in the doghouse a little bit so we didn’t start him tonight, but he handled it tremendously and played great.”

The two teams combined for 27 three-point shots in the game, with 12 different players connecting from long range and 15 players attempting three-point shots.

The Raiders parlayed that perimeter shooting into a healthy 31-20 lead with 7:48 to play in the half, but the Pioneers rallied for a 24-12 run to take a 44-43 lead at the end of the first half.

Neither squad could break free from the other as the lead was never more than three by either team in the second half until Tyler Hammond’s three -pointer with 8:13 to play gave the Pios a 74-69 lead.

Mount Union got three -pointers by Steve Griffin and Nate Jacubec to close the MC lead to 78-76 with five minutes to play.

The Pioneers finally put some distance between them and the Raiders as senior guard Scott Kimmey scored eight points, including a pair from behind the arc to spark a 10-2 Pioneer run and give them a double-digit 88-78 lead with 2:08 to play.

“Kimmey made some really huge shots down the stretch,” said VanderWal, in his sixth year as Pioneer head coach. “Every time they closed it down to two or three, Scott came up big and hit some big threes”.

Kimmey was quick to compliment his teammates for getting him the open looks down the stretch.

“My teammates made good reads to find me open,” said Kimmey, who finished with 13 points in the game. “Jason Humphrey, and (Tyler) Worstell and (Tyler) Hammond, they know how to find me when I’m open and I rewarded them tonight by hitting shots.”

From there on the Pioneers took care of business at the foul line, connecting on 29-of-33 free throw attempts in the game to claim their sixth conference victory in seven attempts.

Martin’s 33 points paced the Pioneers, while Kimmey and Brennan McKean added 13 points apiece and Worstell reached double figures with 11.

“I just had it going a little bit,” said Martin, the Huntington native who came into the game averaging a team leading 15.2 points per game. “I made a couple of tough three’s early on and that’s always good as a confidence booster.”

The Purple Raiders had five scorers in double figures led by Jarrett Ruffin’s 20.

Cody Dillon and Griffin added 17 points apiece, while Jacubec and Taylor Moore chipped in with 16 and 11 points respectively.

Williamstown High School graduate Matt Kiger started for Mount Union and scored a pair of points as the senior spent much of the second half on the bench with four fouls.

Mount Union dropped to 5-9 overall and 3-4 in conference play with the loss, while the Pioneers improved to 10-4 and 6-1 with the win.

Next up for the Pios is a very tough Saturday afternoon battle with John Carroll, before a trip next Wednesday to Columbus to take on the conference-leading Capital Crusaders.

“We’ve got two huge games coming up,” said VanderWal. “We’ve got to get this home one Saturday against John Carroll, we know it’s going to be a very very intense game.”

Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. tip-off.

Women

Mount Union 68, Marietta 35

ALLIANCE – The No. 20-ranked University of Mount Union Purples Raiders defeated Marietta College by the score of 68-35 Wednesday evening in women’s basketball action. The Pioneers fall to 6-8 overall and 1-6 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Mount Union is 11-3 on the season and 5-2 in the OAC.

The Purple Raiders scored the first six points of the game and never trailed en route to the victory. Marietta was held to a season-low 15 points in the first half and 35 points for the game.

Tori Dixon and Emily Jones each scored eight points to lead Marietta. Candice Alexander added five points and had a team-high six rebounds.

Mount Union’s Rosa LaMattina led all scorers with 19 points and eight rebounds. Aly Daniel scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards, while Amanda Turner chipped in with 12 points.

For the game Marietta shot 28.0% (14-of-50) from the floor, 26.3% (5-of-19) behind the arc and 22.2% (2-of-9) at the line. Mount Union was 24-of-61 (39.3%) from the floor, 9-of-23 (39.1%) from three-point range and 11-of-18 (61.1%) from the charity stripe.

The Purple Raiders grabbed 46 rebounds to 36 for Marietta. Mount Union forced 27 Pioneer turnovers, while committing 16 turnovers in the game.