Pioneers seek OAC title, Division 3 tourney berth

MARIETTA -A second Ohio Athletic Conference championship in three seasons.

That’s what is on the line for the Marietta College men’s basketball team when the Pioneers (19-7) entertain Mount Union (13-14) at 7:30 p.m. today at sold-out Ban Johnson Arena.

Marietta is coming off a 111-106 triple-overtime win over Wilmington on Thursday night, that many veteran Pioneer observers say was one of the greatest games ever to take place in the historic gymnasium.

Marietta needed to convert a free throw at the end of regulation just to send the game into overtime. In the first overtime, it needed a last-ditch 3-pointer to force double overtime. Then, it had to repeat that feat in the second overtime. Finally, after 15 minutes of additional play, the Pioneers lived to fight again today.

Providing the opposition will be a Mount Union team that perhaps played its best game of the year in Thursday’s other OAC semifinal, knocking off top-seeded Capital, 63-59.

That victory allows Mount Union a third chance to beat Marietta, which it has been unable to do in their two previous meetings. On Jan. 9, when the Purple Raiders visited Ban Johnson, Marietta prevailed, 97-90. When the Pioneers made the return road trip to Mount Union on Feb. 13, the game was even more one-sided as MC won, 93-81.

Now, in order to advance in Division III play, Marietta must beat Mount Union for a third time.

Leading the way for the Pioneers will be senior guard J.J. Martin of Huntington, W.Va., who is Marietta’s leading scorer with a 17.2 points per game average. Martin also leads Marietta in rebounds, steals and blocked shots. Other expected Marietta starters are junior guard Tyler Hammond, the team’s other double digit scorer with a 10.2 average and its assists leader; and seniors Jacob Owens (9.1 ppg), Jason Humphrey (5.6) and Scott Kimmey (5.3).

Mount Union is sure to have some local supporters as one its starters is former Williamstown High School standout Matt Kiger. A senior forward for the Purple Raiders, Kiger averages 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He has started 24 of Mount Union’s 27 games, including a season high 19-point performance versus Thiel College.

Mount Union is led in scoring by freshman forward Nate Jacubec (15 points per game) and sophomore forward Stevie Griffin (12.4 points average).