Pioneer men suffer first loss of the season

Photo by Ron Johnston Marietta College’s Anthony Wallace dribbles while guarded by Capital’s Austin Schreck during the Pioneers’ 82-78 loss to the Crusaders.

MARIETTA — Caleb Cox couldn’t miss.

The 6-foot-7 senior Crusader scored 25 points on 10 of 10 from the floor to lead Capital University to an 82-78 triumph over Marietta College Wednesday night in Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball action at Ban Johnson Arena.

“We did not do a good job of executing the defensive game plan on him,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “It didn’t help that we were in foul trouble. Tim Kreeger was in major foul trouble all game. We couldn’t keep him on the floor. He’s the guy we wanted to guard Cox most of the time. Those things happen. We’ve got to respond.”

Marietta, 10th-ranked in the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll with a 12-2 overall record (6-1 OAC), was paced by Anthony Wallace’s 15 points. Caleb Hoyng chipped in with 14 markers, and Keith Richardson had 10 and a team-high three assists.

Kyle Dixon and Michael Hall netted seven points apiece. Dixon also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

As a team, MC shot 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor.

Before the opening tip-off, the Pioneers and Crusaders (12-2, 7-0) were tied for first place in the OAC standings.

“I told the guys that it’s not seven-game league schedule,” said VanderWal, whose Pioneers are now tied for second place with Mount Union (12-2, 6-1) in the standings. “It’s an 18-game league schedule.”

After Cox, Austin Schreck tallied 18 points; Will Hannah, 15; and Joey Weingartner, 14. Hannah also collected eight caroms, while Cox had seven.

Schreck and Hannah each had four assists.

As a team, Capital shot 60.8 percent (31-51) from the field.

“Give Cap some credit,” VanderWal said. “They played really, really well. They made the shots when they needed to.

“I told the guys all week that they’re the best executing team that we’ve played all year. And, everytime we made a defensive mistake, they made us pay for it. We just got outplayed.”

The contest featured 10 lead changes and nine ties.

Marietta actually led the majority of the time, and had a 37-35 halftime advantage. But Capital stayed within striking distance the entire game.

After Cox converted two freebies to give Cap a 78-76 lead with about two minutes remaining in the game, the Crusaders never looked back. At crunchtime, the visitors from Columbus were 6 of 10 from the foul line.

Still, with under a minute left, Marietta only trailed by two (80-78) and then three (81-78), but was unable to knock down a shot.

“We still had a chance to win the game, and we got some good looks down the stretch — but we just couldn’t get them to fall,” VanderWal said.

MC is scheduled to play at 5 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Northern University.

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