College basketball: MC falls in showdown tilt

The Mount Union Purple Raiders defeated Marietta College 81-77 Wednesday night at Ban Johnson Arena to clinch the Ohio Athletic Conference championship as well as the No.1 seed in the upcoming OAC Tournament.

Mount Union held Marietta to just eight field goals in the second half and a 27.6 shooting percentage to overcome a 43-40 halftime deficit.

The Pioneers were not their usually red-hot selves in any offensive aspect of the game, shooting 37.3 percent overall, 27.6 percent from beyond the arch and 67.6 percent from the free throw line. It was mostly the second half, though, that brought those numbers down drastically.

“We were completely broke in the second half,” said Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal.

“We’ve got to make some shots, especially in a big game like this.”

Garrett Stephenson scored a game-high 17 points while Luis Garcia added 16, A.J. Davis tallied 14 and Andy Dollman contributed 10.

T.J. Gillespie led Mount Union with 16 markers. Nate Jacubec and Jeff Foreman each added 14 while Kyle Scelza added 10.

With 9 minutes, 38 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 58-all, the Pios went ice cold.

Mount Union built a 62-57 lead as MC missed six straight field goal attempts before a Garcia 3-ball cut the deficit to two. The Raiders then scored eight unanswered points to gain their largest lead of the game, 70-60.

Four straight points by Eddy Grenert, a pair of free throws by Garcia and a layup from Dollman made it a 4-point game, 72-68, with 1:33 left.

After a putback by Foreman and a free throw by Jacubec made it 75-68, the Pioneers got fouled while shooting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Dollman converted all three of his freebies while Davis hit 2-of-3 to bring Marietta within two, 75-73, with 20 seconds left.

Scelza then knocked down a pair of foul shots before A.J Ireland got fouled on an offensive rebound on the other end and split the pair, making it a 3-point game.

Scelza converted two more freebies to make the deficit 79-74 with just six seconds left.

Over, right?

Not quite.

A.J. Edwards checked into the game and chucked the inbound pass down to Marietta’s foul line, where Stephenson made a leaping catch, stepped back and drained a 3, making it a 2-point game with two seconds left and giving the Pioneers life.

Gillespie iced it, however, by getting fouled and dropping in two more free throws to make it a two-possession game.

“Looking at those stats in the second half, I’m surprised it was as close as it was,” VanderWal said. “Our kids battled and played their tails off. Mount just made a few more plays.”

Mount Union (20-4, 15-2) out-rebounded Marietta 47-42, although Davis recorded a game-high nine caroms. The Raiders were led by Jacubec and Dillon on the boards, posting eight and seven, respectively. Both teams committed nine turnovers.

Marietta (18-6, 13-4) played much better in the first half, at one point holding a 39-32 lead with 2:27 left in the period. But instead of letting Pioneers pull away, the Purple Raiders scored eight straight points in just a minute and 21 seconds to re-take the lead. Marietta responded quickly with layups from Davis and Keith Richardson to take the momentum into halftime. Unfortunately for Marietta, that momentum didn’t carry over into the second half.

The Pioneers cap off the regular season Saturday when they host John Carroll at 3 p.m.

Then, Marietta will set its sights on the OAC Tournament. Despite the loss Wednesday, Marietta did clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney after Wilmington lost 88-85 in overtime to Ohio Northern Wednesday.

Woman

Mount Union 94,

Marietta 83

ALLIANCE – The University of Mount Union defeated Marietta College by the score of 94-83 Wednesday evening in women’s basketball action. The Purple Raiders evened their record at 12-12. They improved to 6-12 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The Pioneers slipped to 10-14 overall and 4-13 in the OAC.

Junior Jessica Brogan scored a career-high 26 points to lead all scorers. Brogan was 9-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-10 at the line. Senior Tori Dixon hit three treys and finished with 22 points, while junior Heather Booth chipped in with 16 points. Junior Candice Alexander grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

Five Purple Raiders scored in double figures led by Annie Bova and Amanda Turner’s 15 points. Katie Reed scored 14 points, while Chandler Moore notched 11 and Sarah Grippi added 10 points. Grippi had a team-best five rebounds.

After trading baskets in the early going, senior Tori Dixon hit a three-pointer to cap a 7-0 Pioneer run and give Marietta its biggest lead of the game, 18-12, with 12:24 left in the first half. Mount Union answered with a 7-2 run to retake the lead, 21-20 midway through the period.

The Purple Raiders got hot from three-point range hitting four during a 20-6 surge that put Mount up by 15 points, 41-26, with 4:48 left in the half. Marietta cut the deficit to seven points, 43-36, with a 10-2 run to end the half.

Mount Union scored the first two buckets of the second half to push the lead to 11 points. Following a three-pointer from Turner at the 13:15 mark that made it 53-42, the Pioneers scored 11 unanswered point to even the score at 53 with 11:10 remaining.

A pair of free throws from Mackenzie Kiser with 5:13 remaining tied the game at 71. Mount Union outscored the Pioneers 16-4 over the next three minutes to put the game away.

Marietta finished the regular season Saturday (Feb. 22) with a 3 p.m. tip at John Carroll University.