Updated Sat, Jan 4, 2014 10:03 pm
The Marietta Pioneers (8-4, 2-3) continued their excellent form inside Ban Johnson Arena as the Pioneers outlasted the Ohio Northern Polar Bears (9-3, 2-3) 72-64.
The Pioneers came out of the gates a little sluggish, as the Polar Bears opened the game on a 6-0 run. A layup from sophomore Carly Thomas pushed Ohio Northern’s lead 13-8 with just under 15 minutes left to play in the first half.
Then Marietta woke up.
The Pioneers answered the early run from Ohio Northern with a 26-5 run of their own to blow the game open. With 4:37 remaining in the first half, the Pioneers led 34-18.
The Polar Bears began to chip away at the deficit, but at the end of the first half, Marietta led 41-30.
“Going on that run was huge for us,” senior Paige Lamb said. “I think once we get on a roll like that it is a lot easier for us to keep it going. We had a lot of energy and communication and that helped us.”
Both teams came out of the locker room fighting and trading baskets. Ohio Northern matched Marietta basket for basket for the first 12 minutes of the half.
A 3-pointer from Tori Dixon with 8:04 remaining in the game pushed Marietta’s lead to 12, 62-50.
From there, Ohio Northern turned up pressure and capitalized off Marietta’s mistakes. Taking advantage of three Pioneers’ turnovers, the Polar Bears went on a 13-3 run to pull within two with 1:52 left.
Junior Heather Booth ended the Polar Bears’ run with a layup with 45 seconds remaining to push Marietta’s lead to four points, 67-63.
The Pioneers had ice in their veins as they went 5-of-6 from the charity strike to put the game on ice and pull out the victory.
Candice Alexander led the Pioneers with 18 points and 3 steals. Dixon also had a big day with 12 points and four assists. But it was the bench play that was huge for the Pioneers as they contributed 31 points to the team’s 72.
“The bench play was very important today,” Dixon said. “Not just scoring the ball, they came in and knew the gameplan and executed on offense and defense. Everyone on the bench has been working hard outside of practice and it really showed by hitting important shots and helping the team.”
The victory moved the Pioneers into sixth place in a tough Ohio Athletic Conference. The winners of five straight coming into the game, Ohio Northern fell to fifth place in the OAC.
The win for Marietta snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Polar Bears that went all the way back to the 2005-2006 season and moved the Pioneers to 6-0 at home this season.
Marietta is off until next Saturday when the Pioneers will travel to Berea, Ohio, for a 3 p.m. game against Baldwin Wallace.