Unfortunately for the Pioneers’ first-year signal caller, memories of their pre-New Year’s victories appeared quite fuzzy.
Paced by their 22-6 first-half closing run, rival Muskingum edged host Marietta 86-73 Wednesday night at Ban Johnson Arena.
Marietta (4-8, 0-5 OAC) found early success in the paint, getting six points from senior center Adam Rockhold in the game’s first four minutes. Taking advantage of the Muskies’ overplays, Rockhold converted on four of his first six attempts staking Marietta to a slim 13-11 lead. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, defensive switches derailed post play success, forcing action to the perimeter.
With the score tied 23-23 and 10 minutes to play in the first half, Muskingum tightened the defensive clamps prompting the Pioneers to misfire on seven consecutive attempts, while the Magenta and Black reeled off a 16-1 run.
“They played behind our post players and we told our guys to dump it down there and we will make plays off the entry,” said VanderWal. “We just struggled to make plays down low tonight. We got out-hustled and physically beat by a more experienced group out there.”
Falling behind by as many as 20, Marietta again tried to rally behind the hot shooting of freshman guard Nathan Edick. Collecting 12 points in the contest, Edick connected on 4-of-4 3-point attempts, the final make pulling the Pioneers to within 10 with 3:49 to play.
Trailing 79-71 with 3:08 remaining, Marietta appeared ready to overtake Muskingum as a series of misses by Musky guards and a Rockhold blocked shot gave the Pioneers the ball with a shot at cutting even further into the lead. Unfortunately for Marietta, Muskingum again answered the call defensively forcing freshman guard Jordan Cox to fire an off-balance jumper with the shot clock dwindling.
The Cox miss was the final gasp for the Pioneers as back-to-back buckets by guard Brandon Todd and forward Tyler Felt stretched the final margin to 13.
When asked about the team’s 10-day layoff following their impressive showing in the Shrine Tournament, VanderWal was quick to point out his team’s defensive inconsistencies.
Marshall 66, Rice 47
HOUSTON — Marshall opened Conference USA play in style, erupting in the second half to roll to a 66-47 win over Rice for its first road win of the season in men’s basketball action at Reliant Arena on Wednesday.
Marshall (9-4) stormed out of the locker room on fire in the second half, hitting three 3-pointers in the first five minutes, including a Mark Dorris trey that regained the lead for the Herd, 40-39 lead at 15:21. Getting back the lead gave Marshall a jolt of energy, as the momentum clearly was on the Herd’s side. Tyler Wilkerson felt the boost, scoring six out of the next eight Herd points. Wilkerson dunked home an alley-oop pass from Tirrell Baines in transition, sending the Herd bench into a frenzy.
The highlight reel play gave Marshall a seven-point lead, 48-41 at 12:06, an edge that swelled to double digits minutes later. Guard Darryl Merthie hit the first of two 3-pointers in a two-minute span while the Herd defense held Rice to only 10 points through the first 15:37 of the second half.
Rice’s Suleiman Braimoh scored the game’s first four points before Baines picked up his first offensive rebound with a put back to give MU its initial points of the contest. With the score tied at 8-8, Marshall went on a 6-0 run with four points from Dorris.
Ohio St. 79, Iowa 48
COLUMBUS, Ohio— David Lighty and Othello Hunter each scored 14 points to lead Ohio State to a 79-48 win over Iowa Wednesday night, pushing the Buckeyes’ winning streak to eight.
Ohio State (12-3, 3-0 Big Ten) outscored Iowa 27-3 over the final 11 minutes of the first half to break open what had been a close game.
Reserve guard Eric Wallace scored 10 for Ohio State.
West Virginia 48
STORRS, Conn. — Maya Moore scored 25 points and top-ranked Connecticut continued to roll, winning its Big East home opener 84-48 over No. 16 West Virginia on Wednesday night.
Tina Charles had 18 points and 14 rebounds, her third consecutive double-double and Renee Montgomery tied her career high with nine assists for UConn (14-0, 2-0 Big East).
Mel Thomas had 14 points, and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
But once again, it was the Huskies defense that allowed them to dominate.
UConn, which held Purdue without a field goal for more than 10 minutes on Sunday, kept the Mountaineers off the board for the almost 5 minutes in this one.