The Marietta College Pioneers broke open what was a very close basketball game with a dominating second half in an 89-66, non-conference victory over the Denison Big Red Wednesday evening at Ban Johnson Arena.
The Pioneers trailed by a single point at halftime and led by just two points at 57-55 with 12 minutes to play before exploding for a 32-9 finish to easily dispose of the Big Red.
"Our whole goal as a team is to try and wear people out," said Pioneer head coach John VanderWal, whose team goes at least 10 deep. "We had some fresher legs and went on a big run there in the second half."
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
Marietta College’s J.J. Martin attempts a free-throw against visiting Denison Wednesday night. Martin scored 29 points to lead the Pioneers to an 89-66 win.
Pioneer senior forward J.J. Martin paced the Pioneer attack with 16 second- half points as the Pioneers shot a blistering 63 percent from the field to win going away.
It would be Denison who had the hot hand to start the game, and a three-pointer from Briggs King with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half gave the Big Reds a double-digit lead at 24-14.
"I thought we were just awful on defense there in the first half," said VanderWal. "I had to get after them a little bit at halftime."
Marietta College 89 Denison 66
Denison 38 28 - 66
Marietta College 37 52 - 89
Robby Weingart 3-7 0-3 7, Jon Akpapunam 3-6 0-0 7, Dimonde Hale 4-10 5-7 13, Alex Longi 3-5 3-3 9, Briggs King 3-8 0-0 8, Chris Barnes 1-4 0-0 2, Darius White 2-4 0-0 5, Bret Woolard 4-7 1-4 11, Patrick Keller 0-1 0-0 0, Ludwig Icevski 1-1 0-0 2, D.J. Bridges 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 24-54 11-19 66.
Marietta College (4-2)
Tyler Worstell 1-1 0-0 2, Scott Kimmey 1-3 1-1 3, Tyler Hammond 1-5 2-2 4, J.J. Martin 11-16 5-5 29, Jason Humphrey 2-3 0-0 4, James Crawford 2-2 0-0 5, Brennan McKean 2-8 0-0 5, Jacob Owens 1-4 0-0 3, Luis Garcia 3-5 0-0 7, Matt Napier 6-9 0-0 13, Garrett Stephenson 7-9 0-0 14. Totals: 37-65 8-8 89.
Team Totals: Shooting: DU: 24-54 (44%), MC: 37-65 (57%), Three Point Shooting: DU: 7-22 (32%) (Woolard 2, King 2, Weingart 1, Akpapunam 1, White 1. MC: 7-21 (33%) (Martin 2, Crawford 1, McKean 1, Owens 1, Garcia 1, Napier 1). Rebounds: DU: 25 (King 5, Woolard 4). MC: 38 (Napier 11, Martin 6). Assists: DU: 10 (Akpapunam 2, Hale 2, Longi 2). MC: 16 (Worstell 4, Hammond 4) Turnovers: DU: 8, MC: 7. Team Fouls: DU: 10, MC: 18.
Next Game: Marietta College Saturday at Wilmington 3 p.m.
The Pioneers rallied back late in the opening half, putting together a 23-14 run to pull within one at 38-37.
A Jason Humphrey field goal followed by a Martin three-ball got the second half off to a good start for the Pios, but the pesky Big Red fought right back and a three-point play by Alex Longi tied the game at 46-46.
The two teams would continue to swap the lead back and forth and another bucket from Longi gave Denison the lead at 53-51 with just over 14 minutes to play in the half.
The Pioneers recaptured the lead on a long trey from senior guard Jacob Owens and seconds later freshman Luis Garcia connected from long range to swing the momentum in favor of Marietta College.
That momentum would carry the Pioneers on what would turn out to be an 18-2 run that would turn the nail biter into a blow out.
An old fashioned three-point play by Martin would cap the run and hand the Pios a 69-55 lead with 8:16 to go in the game.
"We were really able to execute on offense there in the second half," said Martin, who finished with a career high 29 points in the game. "We were able to get a lot of good looks and were able to knock them down tonight."
VanderWal had high praise for the Huntington West Virginia native, who also grabbed six rebounds and did his share in defending Denison standout Dimonde Hale.
"J.J. is that kind of player that really has the ability to get it going offensively," said VanderWal. "He can score on the block, he can score from mid-range and he can hit threes. He had a great game tonight."
The Pioneer defense combined to limit Hale to 13 points, some eight points under his season average of 21 points per game.
"The main focus of our game plan all week was to try and stop Hale," said VanderWal of his team's defensive effort. "Both (Jason) Humphery and J.J. did a great job on him. It was just a total team effort."
VanderWal got very productive games from a pair of bigs in 6-foot-7 sophomore Garrett Stephenson, who scored 14 points in just 17 minutes, and 6-6 junior Matt Napier, who chipped in with a double-double with 13 points to go along with a game high 11 rebounds.
"Those guys are big bruisers down low," said VanderWal, whose team out rebounded the Big Reds 38-25 in the game.
"They are both really starting to come into their own which is very exciting for our team."
Napier is trying to make the most of his chances which seem to be growing game by game.
"I've been looking for this opportunity for three years now," said Napier, a Powell, Ohio native. "Once you get an opportunity like this you can't let it go."
Marietta College had 11 different players score and the Pioneer bench out totaled Denison by a 47-22 count.
Hale's 13 points led the Big Red, while Bret Woolard also reached double figures with 11.
The win dropped Denison below the .500 mark at 3-4 on the young season, while the Pioneers improved to 4-2.
"There is a lot we still need to work on," said Martin. "We've just got to keep getting better."
Next up for the Pioneers is a trip Saturday to Wilmington in an Ohio Athletic Conference contest.
From staff reports
WESTERVILLE - The Marietta College women's basketball team fell on the road Wednesday evening to the Otterbein University Cardinals 70-57. The loss drops the Pioneers record to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Ohio Athletic Conference play. Otterbein improves to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the OAC.
Sophomore Heather Booth led the Pioneers with 17 points and four rebounds on the night. Senior guard Krissy Rowe added 14 points while dishing out a team-high five assists. Sophomore Candace Alexander added six points while collecting a team-high seven boards.
Tabatha Piper led Otterbein with 20 points on the night. Rachel Snedegar scored 16 points while collecting a game-high 15 rebounds while Hannah Day chipped with 12 points in the Cardinal victory.
Marietta held a slim edge early in Wednesday's ball game, but was unable to hold off the surging Cardinals through most of the first half. The Pioneers trailed by four, 22-18 with 7:36 left in the first half before Otterbein closed the period on a 15-4 run to lead 37-22 at halftime. The Cardinals continued to keep the pressure on the Pioneers in the second half, pushing the lead to as many as 22 points, at 52-30 with 14:34 remaining in half number two. Marietta was able to cut the deficit down to 10 points at 65-55 with 2:27 on the clock, but could get no closer as the Pioneers fell 70-57.
Marietta finished the game shooting 44.7% (21-of-47) from the field, 18.2% (2-of-11) from downtown and 61.9% (13-of-21) from the free throw line. The Cardinals finished the game shooting 44.3% (27-of-61) from the field, 50% (5-of-10) from behind the arc and 68.8% (11-of-16) from the charity stripe.
The Cardinals held a slim edge on the glass at 35-33 and committed 18 turnovers to Marietta's 25.