Updated Thu, Nov 28, 2013 12:15 pm
Ban Johnson Arena held the feeling of a postseason matchup as No. 3 College of Wooster gave the No. 23 Marietta College Pioneers their first loss of the season in a hard-fought 81-78 victory.
The game was heated from the start, as the teams exchanged leads and tied multiple times during the first 10 minutes. It looked like Wooster (4-0) would begin to pull away when they took a 25-21 lead with 9:11 left in the first half.
But the Pioneers(4-1) rebounded quickly, scoring the next five points to claim a 26-25 lead. The Fighting Scots looked the more aggressive team in the first half, however, going ahead by a six points, making it 35-29 near the end of the half.
Ban Johnson Arena, which was already loud and full of excitement at tipoff, exploded as the home fans watched sophomore wing player Luiz Garcia hit a layup with 26 seconds left that saw Marietta head to the locker room facing a 39-37 deficit at the half.
Marietta initially came out firing on all cylinders, going on a 5-0 run to start the second half and taking the lead for the first time since the 6:32 mark in the first half. But Wooster gained their bearings, going on a 9-0 run by playing suffocating defense that forced two turnovers and poor shot opportunities for the Pios.
But Marietta refused to let the game get away from them, facing a 71-70 deficit with 3:20 left in the second half. Pioneers head coach Jon VanderWal called a timeout to try and urge his team to keep fighting and to keep working on the court.
His words fell on deaf ears, though, as Marietta lost in thrilling fashion.
Senior point guard Tyler Hammond led the Pioneers offensively, recording a team-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, six assists and one rebound. Other standouts included junior wing player Andy Dollman, who had 13 points, going 3-of-4 from 3-point range and three rebounds and Garcia, who contributed 12 points and two rebounds.
For Wooster, the main contributors included senior guard Doug Thorpe, who had 21 points, four assists and two rebounds, and junior guard Xavier Brown who wasn’t far behind Thorpe with 20 points, while grabbing two rebounds and dishing two assists.
The night was also special because Marietta was hosting the Baby Steps Benefit for Paisley, which aided a local family with funds that went to help their child who deals with a disease that causes uncontrollable seizures. All gate proceeds and money earned during a pregame dinner and auction went to the benefit.
The Pioneers will look to get back on track with their first Ohio Athletic Conference game of the season against Otterbein University on Wednesday, Dec. 4, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. Last season Marietta won this matchup, 90-62.