Marietta men’s basketball: Pioneers escape in OT

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The 1,129 fans in attendance at Ban Johnson Arena were treated to what can only be described as an instant classic, as it took Marietta an extra five minutes of basketball to finally put away Mount Union by a final of 80-78. The thrilling win put an end to the Pioneers' three-game losing streak, as well as stopping the Purple Raiders' three-game winning stretch.

The game saw seven lead changes and technical fouls were called on both head coaches. Mount Union opened the contest hot, surging out to a 9-0 lead within the first three minutes. The Pioneers were able to work their way back into the game, spurred on by a 21-6 run over a 10-minute span. The Raiders rallied off one final 14-7 run and went into the half leading by one.

Marietta head coach John VanderWal was disappointed with his team’s defensive effort early on.

“We didn’t play well on defense early on, but we made the stops down the stretch when we needed to.”

Physical play highlighted the second half. Marietta and Mount Union combined to finish with 53 personal fouls.

The Pioneers came out with guns blazing in the second half, ripping off an 11-3 run. Mount Union responded with a 12-3 run of its own, increasing their lead to as many as seven.

During the final stretch of regulation, both teams traded buckets back and forth, neither one allowing the other to clinch the victory. Senior Kevin Knab stepped to the free throw line with 37 seconds to play and drained two crucial free throws to tie the game at 72. Mount Union’s last second three point attempt missed the mark, and the game was sent into its final stage.

In the final frame, Marietta was able to put away the Raiders with the clutch free-throw shooting of Knab, who scored six of the Pioneers eight points in overtime. The other two came from a jumper by Tyler Hammond. Mount Union’s final three pointer missed the mark short, and Marietta survived a scare on their home floor.

Knab led all scorers with 24 points. He converted 14 of 16 shots from the charity stripe on the night and also snared seven of Marietta’s 31 rebounds. Connor Kilpatrick contributed 11 points, and Jason Humphrey added 10. As a team, the Pioneers shot 77.8 percent from the free throw line and blocked three shots.

For Mount Union, both Jimmy Wood and Stevie Griffin scored 17 points, while T.J. Gillespie tacked on 14. The Raiders grabbed 25 boards for the night, and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Marietta will seek redemption on their home court on Saturday, as Baldwin-Wallace invades Fenton Court. The Yellow Jackets dismantled the Pioneers in their first meeting, winning by a final score of 93-74. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.