A late surge: Marietta pulls away from Morgan in 4th quarter

In a game between teams with opposite styles of play, it was Marietta’s inside presence that produced better results than Morgan’s perimeter game as the Lady Tigers handed the Lady Raiders a 68-52 loss at Sutton Gymnasium Monday.

Marietta was 27-for-53 (51 percent) from the floor, including 25-for-44 (57 percent) from inside the 3-point line. Morgan, on the other hand, tried to find success from beyond the arch, but connected just three times in 22 attempts.

“We felt like there was a little bit of a mismatch (inside) because they are such a perimeter-oriented team,” said Marietta head coach Mark Hannuksela. “We have capable post players and we have people who are pretty good at getting the ball to them. I’m glad we were recognizing that.”

The Raiders trailed the entire game but were able to cut the deficit to five points six times in the second half.

However, Morgan could not hit the big shot to make it a one possession game, as the Marietta defense was able to do just enough to preserve the lead.

“We can’t hit the shot when we need it,” said Morgan head coach Tim Bowman. “We had plenty of opportunities.

“That’s the way it’s been the last six games… we just can’t hit the shot.”

With the Tigers up 6-5 early, a pair of baskets by Lauren Martin and a putback bucket by Starr Johnson made it 12-5. Later, a steal by Brittany Deskins led to a layup for Martin to make it 16-7, but Morgan would score the final five points of the quarter on a 3-point play by Braydee Smith and a layup by Vada Clemens.

Taylor Smith opened the second period with a trey, followed by a steal and a layup by Lain Weppler to give the Tigers a 10-point lead.

Midway through the quarter, Jovana Lieras assisted Johnson on a jumper to put Marietta up 31-18, but Morgan fought back with a 10-3 run, led by five points from Clemens, to make it a 6-point game at halftime.

The two teams went back and forth in the third quarter.

A coast-to-coast layup by Clemens made it 35-30, but Martin quickly answered with a floater. Later, Arissa Nelson put in a 2-pointer for the Raiders to again make it a 5-point game, but again Marietta responded, this time with a bucket by Weppler.

A pair of free throws by Martin and a layup by Deskins stretched the lead to nine momentarily, but back-to-back buckets by Smith and Teara Mayle brought Morgan to with five once again.

After Deskins and Mayle traded 3s, Johnson hit a pair of foul shots to make it 48-41, but Clemens drained a jumper just before the buzzer, keeping Morgan within five.

Johnson hit two more freebies to start the fourth quarter, but Laura Davis answered with a 3-ball to make the score 50-46.

An 8-0 run by the Tigers, making it 58-46, ended up being the turning point. Johnson, Weppler and Alle Moore combined for four free throws while Smith and Martin each made layups to give Marietta a 12-point advantage with three minutes left.

That was all she wrote for Morgan, as Marietta made its next five shots to secure the Raiders’ sixth straight loss.

Marietta improved to 6-3 with the victory.

“It’s nice going into the break with a win,” Hannuksela said.

“I guess it’s a sign that we’re making progress when we win by 15 or 16 points and we felt like we gave some points away.”

Johnson led all scorers with 19 points and also had a game-high 12 rebounds for a double-double. Martin added 18 points for the Tigers.

Morgan was led by Clemens’ 15 markers. Davis and Nelson each chipped in with 10.