Pioneers bounce back to beat Muskingum

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Wheeler Marietta College's Kyle Dixon (21) goes up for a basket during a college men's basketball game against Muskingum Wednesday at Ban Johnson Arena. Marietta won, 104-86.

Anthony Wallace is Marietta College’s leading scorer and also one its better defenders.

The 6-foot-2 junior wing scored 19 points and helped “limit” the league’s top scorer to 31 points as the Pioneers downed Muskingum University, 104-86, Wednesday night in an Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball game at Ban Johnson Arena.

“A two-way player is what I pride myself on,” said Wallace, who is averaging 13.6 points per game on the season. “That’s what I’ve got to do.

“I made a concerted effort tonight to come in and just play my tail off. And, whatever shots fell, they fell.”

Avery Williams had a double-double with a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Pioneers, who are No. 25-ranked in NCAA D3 with a 9-3 overall record (3-2 OAC).

Kyle Dixon also had 19 points, while DeVaughn Wingard and Dillon Young netted 15 and 11, respectively. Young also dished out a game-high eight assists.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can go off for 20 points,” Wallace said.

Marietta also went over the 100-point mark in a game for the third time this season.

“We didn’t play very good offense at the Wittenburg tournament,” said 11th-year MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “So, we really wanted to play faster tonight, and maybe score in transition a little bit and get a little bit of confidence. We purposely tried to play faster.”

Muskingum was led by Marcus Dempsey’s 31 points. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division III National Men’s Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 31 had 19 markers in the first half and 12 after the break.

“Dempsey was averaging 28-point-something,” Wallace said. “But he had a 57-point game (a school record vs. Oberlin) and a 48-point game (vs. Medalille). I mean, he’s probably one of the best scorers in college basketball, right now.

“I looked forward to the challenge of guarding the best player. It gets me going offensively. He’s a tough player to guard. You’ve just got to make him work for it and try to wear him down throughout the game. He still got his points but I feel it kept his team from going a little bit.”

Jalen Paige chipped in with 15 points, while Jayson Peoples and Devon Peart had 11 and 10, respectively, for the Fighting Muskies (5-7, 3-2). MU was without 1,000-point career scorer Jarrell Marsh, who tragically passed away in an automobile wreck on December 21, 2017 while traveling home for the Holiday break.

“Jarrell was arguably their best player,” VanderWal said. “He had 40-some points on us a couple of years ago at their place.

“He’s a really good player but even though we’re rivals, there’s a lot of respect there. And, we definitely feel for him right now. We got these T-shirts in memory of him. We wanted to let Muskingum know that we’re thinking of him and praying for him.”

MC, which never trailed in the contest, started off with two putback baskets, one by Wallace and another by Williams. After that, the Pioneers never looked back, but the contest was tied three times in the first half.

Sparked by Williams’ 10 points and Wallace’s nine, Marietta led 45-39 at the intermission.

In the second half, Muskingum battled and was able to cut it to three (49-46) on Paige’s triple at the 17:38 mark. But the visitors from New Concord never got that close again as Marietta slowly but surely built on its lead.

MC is scheduled to host Ohio Northern University at 3 p.m. Saturday.

“That’s a huge one,” VanderWal said. “They’re going to be at the top of the league and if we want to be at the top of the league, we really have to get that one on Saturday.”