Grenert, Davis help Pioneers rally to defeat the Blue Streaks

Sophomore Eddy Grenert could be a low post player to keep an eye on when Marietta College tips off Ohio Athletic Tournament play at Ban Johnson Arena Thursday night.

The MC non-starter provided a boost when he scored 15 of his game-high 21 points after the break to help lead the Pioneers to a 94-87 come-from-behind triumph over John Carroll University in OAC men’s basketball action at the Banjo Saturday.

“I just had a good feeling, I guess,” said the 6-foot-4 Grenert, who also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds . “I was feeling good, and the shot was feeling good – and I kept getting the ball. We had a good day on the boards. That’s for sure.”

Grenert’s double-double was a first for him as a Marietta College varsity cager. Going into the contest, he was averaging 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

MC’s Luis Garcia added 17 points; Keith Richardson contributed 15; Andy Dollman chipped in with 13; RaNeal Ewing had 10; and A.J. Davis netted nine markers and had nine boards for the Pioneers, who improved their record to 19-6 overall and 14-4 in the OAC.

Marietta had 55 bench points, and JCU 37 in the contest.

“Eddy and A.J. Davis just willed us to victory in the second half,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “Luis Garcia was making a bunch of shots, Dollman was making a bunch of plays, but Eddy and A.J. did all the dirty work. They were crashing the glass and getting us second chance opportunites, which allowed those other guys to make baskets. They just willed us to victory today.”

John Carroll (15-10, 9-9) had four double-digit scorers in non-starter David Linane (19), Tim Ludlow (13), Joey Vuyancih (12), and Jake Hollinger (10). David Hendrickson netted nine.

Hollinger also collected a game-high 11 caroms.

Both MC and JCU shot 48 percent from the floor with the former torching the nets at 58.1 percent in the second half and the later 57.6 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

“You shoot 58 percent when you’re playing tough, you’re being aggressive, and you’re giving yourself second chances,” VanderWal said.

John Carroll jumped on Marietta early with a double-digit advantage, 13-2. At the 10:30 mark, the Blue Streaks took their biggest lead, 29-17, after Jordan Murphy converted two freebies.

“They shot the ball really well,” Grenert said. “We had problems with them getting a lot of open looks. With shooters open, it’s a lot easier than with someone in their face.”

The Pioneers hung tough, though, and came back to reduce the deficit to three points three times on baskets by Dollman, Garcia, and Richardson, respectively. Just before halftime, JCU gave itself a little cushion and led 47-39, going into the locker room.

“I was extremely upset at halftime, probably the most upset I’ve been all year,” VanderWal said. “It was about our lack of toughness. We were not tough at all in the first half and didn’t execute our stuff very well.

“John Carroll wanted it more than we did. They were moving faster than we were. So, I got after the guys pretty hard at halftime.”

Said Grenert, “We struggled a little bit in the first half, but coach got us going in the locker room at halftime. He was a little fired up, but that’s good for us.”

After the break, John Carroll maintained the advantage, but Marietta stayed within striking distance. At the 8:22 mark, Davis drained a three to give the Pioneers their first lead of the contest, 72-71. The triple also ignited a 10-0 run as Dollman followed with a bucket, Brennan McKean rimmed a three, and Grenert had a putback to make it 79-71.

“I kept waiting for them (JCU) to call timeout,” VanderWal said. “They kept letting it go and we kept making shots.”

Finally, at the 6:33 mark, the Blue Streaks did call time but the damage had been done, and they never recovered from MC’s spurt.

With a little over a minute left, Grenert’s layup gave Marietta its first double-digit lead, 89-79.

“It was very exciting,” Grenert said, “and we found it in us to make some shots and get ourselves going (in the second half). We also played a lot better defense in the second half, and got to their shooters.

“This win gives us a lot of momentum going into the (OAC) tournament, which is good. Hopefully, we can win that and then go into the NCAA tournament.”

Said VanderWal, “Give our guys credit. They really responded in the second half. That’s something we don’t do here is lose two in a row. We refuse to lose two in a row, and we bounced back. Our kids did a great job.”

Previous to the JCU game, the MC cagers had dropped an 81-77 decision to OAC first-place Mount Union at the Banjo on Wednesday.

In this week’s upcoming OAC tournament, the No. 2-seeded Pioneers get two byes, and are scheduled to host a team not yet determined at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The navy blue and white will know its opponent following Tuesday’s OAC quarterfinals

“We needed this (win vs. JCU) and energy going into next week,” said VanderWal after Saturday’s victory.

Women

John Carroll University 88, Marietta College 65

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS – The Marietta College women’s basketball team closed the season with an 88-65 loss at John Carroll University Saturday. The Pioneers finished with an overall record of 10-15, 4-14 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

Seniors Tori Dixon and Paige Lamb finished their careers in the Navy Blue and White. Dixon ends her collegiate career ranked eighth on Marietta’s all-tie scoring list with 1,087 points.

John Carroll (21-3 overall, 15-3 OAC) captured a share of the OAC regular season crown with the victory. It is the first OAC title in the history of the Blue Streak program.

The Pioneers gave John Carroll all they could handle in the first half.

A pair of free throws from Jessica Brogan at the 7:47 mark gave the Pioneers an eight-point lead, 22-14. Marietta led 36-32 at halftime.

Marietta held on to the lead through the first five minutes of the second half. A layup from Heather Booth with 5:10 remaining gave the Pioneers a 42-40 lead. However, John Carroll held Marietta to a single point over the next eight minutes.

The Blue Streaks showed why they are one of the top teams in the region by outscoring the Pioneers 27-1 in those eight minutes. A layup from Beth Switzler with 7:13 on the clock put JCU in front 67-43. John Carroll would lead by as many as 29 points in the final minutes of the game.

Freshman Tristan Toman led the Pioneers with a career-high 14 points. Dixon chipped in with 12 points, while Candice Alexander grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Melissa Spahar, the OAC’s leading scorer, poured in 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Katlyn Spahar scored 18 points off the bench and Switzler finished with 17 points and 10 boards.