Pioneer women turn tables on Wilmington

Marietta College’s Alexis Enochs makes a move with the ball during a college women’s basketball game against Wilmington Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena. Photo courtesy of Evan Odom.

MARIETTA — What a difference almost two months can make.

Back on Dec. 17, the Marietta College women’s basketball team was done in 90-60 at Wilmington. But Saturday afternoon in Marietta, the Pioneer women turned things around on the visiting Quakers to the tune of 57-42 to help fortify their hold on fourth place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with just two regular-season games to go

It all started to happen for Marietta Saturday in Ban Johnson Arena after some early sparring back and forth. The Pioneers took the lead for good inside the five-minute mark of the first quarter on a Fort Frye connection when Brooke Borich fed Alexis Enochs on the baseline down low for a layup and a 7-6 edge.

Amisha Herd followed with a steal that resulted in a MC foul shot at 4:34 and Borich drove the baseline for a basket at 2:46 for a 10-6 lead after one period of play.

But the Pioneers began to really dominate the action in the second stanza. Jenna Andersen hit a foul-line jumper to kick off a 15-5 run for Marietta that helped propel it into a 25-13 advantage at halftime. Borich canned a trey in the spurt, Herd had a hoop and Ashley Barker produced back-to-back buckets.

It was the MC defense, though, that was the catalyst in the spurt — rebounding, playing tough and fighting for every ball, even on the floor, to create 10 turnovers alone in the second period to stymie the Quaker attack.

However, even after the Pioneers went up by as much as 22 at 38-16 on another Borich 3-ball at 5:01 of the third quarter, Wilmington began to rally back, cutting the gap to 14 at 40-26 going into the final 10 minutes of play.

By the time 7:07 remained in the game, the score was 41-33. That’s when Marietta head coach Kole Vivian decided to primarily get the ball inside to either Corrie Burkhardt or Enochs to score or get fouled in the process. The ploy worked to perfection as the inside duo first converted 4-of-4 at the foul line, then both scored inside to make it a 49-35 game with 4:53 to play, and Wilmington never threatened seriously again.

Herd and Enochs led MC (14-9, 8-8 OAC) with 11 points each, Burkhardt had 10 and Borich eight. Herd grabbed 13 rebounds, while Enochs had eight and Burkhardt six. The Pioneers had 18 steals, seven by Herd, and forced a total of 30 turnovers by the Quakers (15-8, 11-5 OAC), who were playing without the OAC’s second-leading scorer in Mackenzie Campbell (16.2 ppg).

“This was without a doubt a lot better than the first time we played them,” said Vivian. “Our effort on defense — flying around, forcing turnovers, were great on the glass — is a credit to the players. They were really playing for each other today.”

Wilmington’s fourth-quarter comeback try kicked in “when they threw a zone at us,” said Vivian. “It took us probably five or six possessions to kind of really get locked in on it. But then we started feeding our post players a little bit.

“This was a huge win. I think this is the best season we’ve had in 27 years or so.”

Wilmington, which came into Saturday’s game tied for second in the OAC, was paced by Ashley Andracki with 11 points and Mary Moyer with 11 rebounds.

If MC finishes in the fourth spot in the OAC, it will get a first-round bye in the OAC tournament.