Pioneers off to record start

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times The Marietta College women won their ninth straight game to open the season Tuesday at Ban Johnson Arena, setting a new program record.

Laura Pullins helped Marietta College make school history.

The 2017-18 Pioneer cagers became the program’s first women’s basketball team to start a season 9-0 when they defeated previously undefeated Washington & Jefferson, 86-71, at Ban Johnson Arena Tuesday afternoon.

“Laura’s one of the reason why we’re 9-0 right now,” said second-year MC head coach Kole Vivian, whose Pioneers are currently ranked No. 21 in the women’s top 25 poll.

Pullins, a freshman non-starter from Eastern High, scored a team-high 13 points in 20 minutes of play. Shay Lett and Brooke Borich each added 11 points, while Amisha Herd and Jo Herd-Middlebrooks had 10 apiece. Jenna Andersen and Alexis Enochs contributed eight markers apiece, and Corrie Burkhardt grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

“We’re scoring a lot,” Vivian said. “I always think that if you’re scoring, they’re having fun playing with each other and tonight was another example of that.

“We had five in double figures and two more with eight. So, they’re sharing the basketball. Our bench today was awesome. They gave us a ton of energy.”

The MC pine outpointed W&J’s, 40-22.

“It’s not tough (coming off the bench) knowing that we have all those weapons on the floor,” Pullins said. “Just being able to play as a freshman and making school history is crazy.”

The Jina DeRubbo-coached Presidents (8-1) were paced by Danielle Parker’s game-high 17 points. Amirah Moore chipped in with 15, and Mya Gordon and Maria Lawhorne netted 10 and nine, respectively.

“Washington and Jeffereson, they’re one of the top teams in the Presidents Conference every year,” Vivian said. “They’ve had some big wins and have some really good players. This was a great win to be going on a (Christmas) break on.”

Except for 26 seconds early in the opening half, Marietta had the upper hand the entire contest. Shortly after entering the game at the 4:43 mark of the first quarter, Pullins drained a triple, snapping a 7-7 tie. After that, the Pioneers never looked back.

“Laura was really good,” Vivian said. “She comes in here and works hard every day.

“She came in and made a three right off the bat. She’s so good and smart on defense, and she can score.”

At halftime, MC led 41-34 with Borich and Pullins scoring eight and seven markers, respectively.

“We work hard in practice,” Pullins said. “We prepare like we’re suppose to. The past few days, all we’ve done was prepare for Washington and Jefferson. We were ready for them today.”

In the third quarter, it was a battle with the Presidents outpointing the Pioneers, 22-21.

But in the final period, Marietta scored 11 unanswered points at the outset to stretch its advantage to 73-56. During the surge, Bailee Brooks, Pullins, Lett, and Pullins again each had a bucket, while Enochs converted two freebies and Lett one.

“Once we picked up fullcourt, that’s when our energy started coming up which made the bench and us getting excited on the floor,” Pullins said. “We just played together as a team and had energy everywhere.”

“As a freshman coming in here, it feels really nice,” she added. “I mean, without the team, we wouldn’t be where we are. It’s just nice that we have a bond like we do, and it’s nice our record (winning streak) didn’t get broken.”

Note: Before tip-off, the MC women were tied with the 1985-86 and 1989-90 Pioneer teams for the best start to a season (8-0).