The Marietta College women's basketball team led only one time in the game
But it was at the only time that mattered - at the end.
If you were there at Ban Johnson Arena Tuesday night, you probably didn't see it coming, MC's thrilling 63-61 come-from-behind win over previously undefeated and No. 25-ranked Wilmington College. The Lady Pioneers (7-2 overall, 3-1 Ohio Athletic Conference) after all were down 11, 33-22, at halftime and struggling big time with their shooting touch.
Obviously, if a team is shooting 33 percent (nine of 27) from the floor, it's probably not going to win very many games. Aleisha Guiler, MC's leading scorer on the season with an average of 14.4 points per game, attempted only three shots (made one) in the first half.
"Wilmington was double- and triple-teamming her every time she touched the ball," said MC head coach Jill Meiring.
And, usually after getting the ball in the paint, where she received most of her touches, Guiler's only option was to kick it back out to the perimeter.
Still, despite its subpar shooting performance in the first half, Marietta hung in there, and only trailed by double digits at the break when Wilmington's Bria Eslick buried a baseline jumper with three seconds remaining on the clock.
The thing is, the Lady Quakers (6-1, 3-1) weren't exactly torching the net themselves in the opening half. Sure, they shot 42 percent (15 of 36) from the floor, but most of their buckets were coming on layups. Their outside shooting was for the most part off the mark and non-existent from behind the arc (0-5).
Still, Wilmington's 10-0 run about midway through the first 20 minutes of play appeared to be the difference in the contest - so far. When the visitors went into the halftime locker room, they were in pretty good shape.
Well, not everybody was.
"I'm never comfortable," said Lady Quakers head basketball coach Jerry Scheve.
It after all was only a halftime lead and not a big one at that.
Meanwhile, over in the Marietta locker room, Meiring and her staff had to be shaking their heads. They knew that the Lady Pioneers could shoot a lot better than they did and that Wilmington's advantage was not insurmountable.
They were proven right.
During the opening minute of the second half, Jessica Brogan drained a three, and that pretty much changed the momentum of the game. Brogan's trey ignited a 10-0 Lady Pioneer run - and all of a sudden the home team was only trailing by one.
Following Brogan's triple, Candice Alexander and Sierra Sigman each made a bucket. Then Brogan dialed look distance a second time.
Sheve had seen enough, so he called Wilmington's first timeout of the game.
Shortly after play was resumed, Wilmington countered with a 10-0 run itself.
But you know what? Marietta wasn't about to go away, because there was a lot of time remaining on the game clock.
After Lindsay Deemer's two straight baskets cut it to seven (47-40), Marietta never trailed by double digits again. And, slowly but surely, the Lady Pioneers crept closer and closer to the Lady Quakers until....
With under a minute left, Sigman made a layup and converted a bonus freebie to tie the game at 61-all.
With 29 ticks on the clock, Marietta got the ball. With 15 seconds remaining, the Lady Pioneers called time to set up a potential game-winning play. When the action was resumed, Krissy Rowe inbounded the ball to Tori Dixon, who dribbled right and then penetrated the paint. When Dixon saw Guiler momentarily open down on the low blocks, she dished the ball to her. Guiler was hammered in the act of shooting.
With nine seconds left, Guiler toed the foul line and swished two freebies to give Marietta its first lead of the game.
MC still had to play some defense, though, and got a big block from Alexander on Wilmington's final shot attempt of the contest.
Game over, and Marietta had heroes galore - Guiler, Dixon, Sigman, Brogan, Deemer and freshman Heather Booth, who came off the bench to score 10 points.
"This was definitely a team effort," said Booth, a former Frontier standout.
When Marietta visits Ohio Northern University for an OAC tilt Saturday, it should be brimming with confidence and hoping to skip the dramatics this time.
"Do I have any more white hairs?" asked Meiring after Tuesday night's game.
The Marietta coach laughed, and then became serious.
"Ohio Northern's a tough team that beat Otterbein, a team that beat us," she said. "We're going to have to play well."
If MC plays and shoots 57 percent (17-30) from the field like it did in the second half against Wilmington, well...look out.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org