College men’s basketball: Pioneer men hook Fighting Muskies 98-67

In their first matchup of the season, the Marietta College Pioneers blew a 22-point second-half lead to the Muskingum University Fighting Muskies, before rallying for a 15-point road win.

Wednesday night the Pioneers jumped out to a 16-point halftime lead and then started the second half with a 10-4 run to easily defeat Muskingum 98-67 in an Ohio Athletic Conference contest at Ban Johnson Arena.

“We did a really good job at coming out at halftime and refocusing and putting the pedal to the metal,” said sixth- year Pioneer head coach Jon VanderWal. “We made that mistake up there but I thought our guys handled the lead a lot better tonight.”

The victory kept the Pioneers tied for the top spot in the OAC as co-leader Capital scored an 82-64 win over Wilmington on Wednesday.

The Pioneers jumped out to the 45-29 lead at halftime by shooting a blistering 62 percent (18-of-29) in the first 20 minutes.

Coshocton native Dave Brown opened the second half with a score for the Muskies before Pioneer big man Jason Humphrey scored back-to-back field goals to make it 49-31.

Brown answered with a driving bucket but consecutive scores by Scott Kimmey, J.J. Martin, and Humphrey made it a 55-33 ballgame.

Unlike the December matchup in New Concord, the Pioneers continued to add to their lead and an old fashioned three-point play by Garrett Stephenson made it 68-44 with just over 12 minutes to play.

Tyler Worstell supplied plenty of energy as usual off of the bench for the Pios as the senior scored 10 points in the game and dished out seven assists including a beautiful pass to Matt Napier to make it a 32-point lead (80-48) with nine minutes to play.

“Tyler is really playing well for us right now,” said VanderWal of Worstell, who shares point guard duties with Tyler Hammond. “He is kind of our unsung hero and I’m really pleased with how he’s playing and hope he can keep it up the rest of the year.”

Worstell, who did all of his damage in just 19 minutes worth of playing time, was quick to give credit to his teammates for his outstanding game.

“They (Muskingum) were jamming our top ball screens and I got most of the points off of penetration,” said Worstell, who came into the game averaging just under seven points per game. “As far as the assists go, that’s my teammates making shots.”

Once again Martin led the Pioneers in scoring with 21 points while also grabbing a game-high nine rebounds.

No less than 14 Pioneers scored at least two points in the game including 11 points apiece from bigs Napier and Stephenson.

“At about the ten minute mark I told the starters that they needed to win the next few minutes so we could get their teammates in,” said VanderWal, who got 17 players into the game. “They (Pioneer reserves) deserve that time and it’s nice when you can play everybody.”

Brown paced the Muskies with 17 points while Michael Klamo and Christian Keller chipped in with 15 and 10 points respectively.

The Muskies remained winless in the OAC at 0-13 and slipped to 1-19 on the season.

Marietta College improved to 15-5 overall and 11-2 in conference play with three huge home games to follow.

“We’ve got to find away to get all of these home games,” said VanderWal of the upcoming home games against Heidelberg, Capital, and Baldwin Wallace. “We’re tied for first place with five to go, so we’ve got to win them all.”

The Pioneers will host Heidelberg Saturday afternoon in a doubleheader with the Lady Pioneers.

The ladies’ game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m while the men are slated for a 3 p.m tip-off.