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MC men fall to No. 1-ranked Randolph-Macon

Marietta College’s Lukas Isaly pulls up for a jump shot in the Pioneers’ 82-74 loss to No. 1 Randolph-Macon. Islay finished the game with a career-high 36 points. Photo by Rebecca Wheeler

MARIETTA — Anyone who watched Lukas Isaly play Saturday night knows he’s a big-game player.

Marietta’s senior point guard scored a career-best 36 points in a match-up of top-five programs in front of 1,342 rowdy fans inside Ban Johnson Arena during the final game of the Great Lakes Invitational.

Unfortunately for him and Marietta College, it just wasn’t enough. Instead, top-ranked Randolph-Macon outscored the third-ranked Pioneers 59-50 in the second half to pull out an 82-74 win.

“Isaly was unreal,” said Randolph-Macon coach Josh Merkel.

Isaly scored 25 of his points in the second half as he tried to will Marietta to the upset victory. He also played relentless defense as he was on the floor for 32 minutes.

“It’s not what we wanted after the loss to Roanoke (last week), but I thought we played our butts off,” Isaly said.

And he made an impression on Randolph-Macon’s Buzz Anthony, who is considered one of the top NCAA Division III players.

“He is a shot maker. You can’t really simulate (in practice) what he does,” Anthony said. “We’re a team that takes pride in our defense, but that dude was in the zone and he had the crowd going. He’s going to prepare us for great players in the tournament.”

Marietta, however, wasn’t looking for a moral victory.

“We felt like we had a golden opportunity for something special tonight,” said Marietta coach Jon VanderWal.

“We’re pretty bummed we came up short. Obviously, Randolph-Macon is one of the best teams in the country. I think we’re right there. We’re bummed because we feel like we should have won that game.”

Senior Jason Ellis scored 15 points in 33 minutes of action for the Pioneers..

Marietta built a 24-23 lead at halftime because of a relentless defense that didn’t allow many easy shots for the Yellow Jackets (5-0). Late in the first half, R-M switched to a 3-2 matchup zone and continued to use it in the second half. Offensively, Marietta struggled to adapt.

“We didn’t handle their zone defenses likewe would have liked to,” VanderWal said. “The atmosphere actually worked against us because we struggled to get guys on the same page. We could have handled the zone better by finding the gaps and making some plays.”

However, VanderWal did note that the Pioneers scored 50 points the second half against a Randolph-Macon team that allows on average 65 points a game.

The difference in the second half for R-M was the number of easy baskets the Yellow Jackets converted through back-door cuts and Ian Robertson’s hot 3-point shooting. Robertson finished with 20 points, including multiple clutch 3-pointers.

“You have to pick your poison,” VanderWal said. “We chose to try to shut down Buzz today. We guarded him about as well as we could, and you need the ball to bounce your way a few times. However, (Robertson) made some big shots and he hit a couple of daggers down the stretch.”

Merkel was impressed with the Marietta fans and the Pioneer players.

“This was an awesome environment for these kids. Our guys were hyped about it all weekend. Fortunately, we came out on top. They are very good in this building,” he said. “Both teams were doing a good job, but they were physical and bullied us in the first half. In the second half, we were just trying to get some more two-man games.”

And it worked.

Miles Mallory, who went 8-for-8 from the foul line, had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, while Josh Talbert added 11 points. Anthony scored 15 points and dished out 13 assists.

“They had guys step up and make plays, and they made all of their foul shots down the stretch,” VanderWal said. “It was a great game, great environment with two great teams. First half defensively was everything we talked about. The first half I couldn’t have been happier. We were flying around. We made it really challenging on them.”

Marietta’s Cooper Parrott had his best outing of the season as he chipped in with 11 points.

“I think we have all of the pieces. I think we are one of the top teams in the country,” VanderWal said. “I know the guys in that locker room have the potential to be the best team in the country. We can play with anybody out there.”

Marietta women improve to 4-0

DELAWARE, Ohio – Marietta College women’s basketball team improved to 4-0 with a 66-62 road win over Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday.

“Today was a really hard fought game against a really talented team on the road,” said MC head coach Kole Vivian. “We didn’t shoot it very well and turned it over more than we have this year. Our defense and our depth made a huge impact, as we got deeper in the game.”

The Pioneers were led by Erin Hahn, as she had a double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks in the game. Makenzie Wilson also notched a double-double with a career high 12 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Kelly Levering provided a spark off the bench with 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

“To have four wins against teams predicted to be at the top of their leagues so far feels really good,” concluded Coach Vivian.

Marietta will return to the court Tuesday, Nov. 30 when it travels to take on Case Western, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.

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