Homestretch Struggles Plague Pioneers In Loss To Crusaders

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Marietta’s lack of ability to finish games did them in once again, as the Pioneers (8-8, 2-7) lost a heartbreaker on the road to the Capital Crusaders (9-6, 6-3) by a score of 74-72.

This loss marks the team’s fourth straight in Ohio Athletic Conference play and the fourth loss in their last six games.

“The team has been prepping all week by getting up extra shots and working really hard in practice,” senior guard Tori Dixon said. “So coming into the game, we were hungry and excited for our next challenge.”

Both teams got off to slow and ugly starts with fouls and turnovers ruling the first four minutes of play.

“Capital’s pressure really got to us,” said head coach Stacia Shrider. “I feel like we did a good job of attacking that pressure once, but once we got in the half court, that is where we need to do better.”

An Emily Sabatino jumper at the 11:53 mark in the first half gave the Pioneers a 14-6 lead.

Both teams started to find the basket halfway through the first half. A layup by Morgan Liedtke with 1:38 remaining in the first half gave Marietta their biggest of 11 points, 30-19.

The Crusaders went into the locker room with some momentum as they closed the first half on a 7-0 run to pull within four.

At half, the Pioneers led 30-26.

The second began the same way the first half did: with turnovers and fouls. Despite the turnovers and fouls, both teams traded baskets.

A three pointer from Freshman Jenna Erwin gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game with 7:12 remaining in the game, 52-51.

Marietta was able to retake the lead and push their lead back to five points, but that would be as big as it would get before trouble struck.

The Pioneers began to look tense with under four minutes remaining and the Crusaders took advantage. With two minutes left, Marietta led 67-65.

With 24 seconds remaining and the game tied, a turnover by Sierra Sigman after a Shrider timeout caused Marietta to quickly foul. The Crusaders would hit both free throws to give them a 71-69 lead.

Coach Shrider would again call a timeout, but this time a turnover by Jessica Brogan caused the Pioneers to foul once again. Jaime Canton hit both free throws to push the lead to 73-69 with nine seconds remaining. Marietta sprinted down the floor and three point specialist Tori Dixon drilled a three with 2 seconds to pull the Pioneers within one.

After another quick foul, Erwin hit one of her two free throws, but time ran out before Marietta could get another shot off.

The Crusaders were able to pull out the come from behind win in front of their home crowd, as Capital closed the game 9-5 run to seal the victory.    

“Capital went on runs at the end of each half and we have to learn to be more clutch,” Dixon said. “We need to realize that little things add up and will turn into big things if we don’t answer.”

Jenna Erwin led all scorers with 25 points. Coming into this game, Erwin was only averaging 4.2 points per game. Jamie Canton added 12 points and 6 rebounds for the Crusaders.

Candice Alexander led all Pioneers with 19 points. Jessica Brogan had a big night in the loss, adding 14 points to the scoreboard. Heather Booth added 12 points of her own and pulled down 6 boards.

“Jessica was huge for us tonight,” coach Shrider said. “She is our X-factor, she is a big lift coming off the bench. She is a good leader and she does all of the little intangibles that don’t show up on the score sheet.”

The Crusaders held Dixon in check tonight as she only put up 5 points.

Marietta will look to right the ship Saturday as the welcome the Quakers from Wilmington College to Ban Johnson Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.