Marietta College had the game won in the first half.
Sure, the No. 13 nationally ranked Pioneers were outpointed by visiting Heidelberg University after the break, but there was really never any doubt as to which school was going to advance to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament final against John Carroll University at Ban Johnson Arena.
"We only had one day to prepare for Heidelberg, and those guys have given us fits in the past," said MC head coach Jon VanderWal after the Pioneers (24-3) defeated the Student Princes, 70-55.
During regular-season play, MC and HU split with each winning on its home floor.
"We put in a defensive plan yesterday," continued VanderWal, "and our guys came out and just executed it to perfection."
Did they ever.
Heidelberg (12-15) made only eight of 30 shot attempts (26.7 percent) from the floor, and also had eight turnovers.
Meanwhile, it took almost five minutes before Marietta's offense kicked in and when it did, there was no looking back.
At the break, of the 10 Pioneers who saw playing time, nine scored to give the navy blue and white a commanding 39-20 advantage.
"That was definitely our best first half this season so far," said MC non-starter Tyler Worstell, who scored eight of the Pioneers' 30 bench points in the game. "We came out with a lot of intensity.
"After the first five minutes, I thought we got about every loose ball there was to get. That was really big for us. I'd like to attribute that to good defensive pressure and intensity. Whatever it was, we'll take it."
MC's Kevin Knab, who scored a team-high 16 points, agreed and added, "That was a whole team effort. We didn't want them to think that they could hang around on our home court."
After the break, Heidelberg scored four quick points to cut it to 39-24. Seeing this, a visibly agitated VanderWal signaled for a 30-second timeout to settle his Pioneers down.
"Coach (VanderWal) is a very on-edge guy," Worstell said. "His main points were that we've got to keep it rolling and can't let them back in it, especially a team like Heidelberg.
"Show them a little bit of life, and they can run with it."
Heidelberg never did run with it in the second half, and also was unable to reduce the deficit to single digits as Marietta cruised home with the victory.
"I was extremely proud of our guys," VanderWal said.
Now, it's onward and upward for the Pioneers and a date with the Blue Streaks in Saturday's OAC tourney final.
During the regular season, MC swept JCU.
"It's going to be a battle," VanderWal said. "They're going to come down guns blazing and giving it everything they've got.
"Their only chance to get to the national tournament is to win here Saturday. But we'll be ready for them. That's for sure."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org