MARIETTA, Ohio – The Wilmington College men's basketball team led 37-35 at halftime, but two runs for Marietta College in the second half propelled the Pioneers to an 86-71 victory over the Fightin' Quakers in an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Tournament quarterfinal round game on Tuesday evening.
Wilmington scored the first seven points of the game, and after the Pioneers got on the scoreboard for the first time four minutes into the game, Christian Jones hit two free throws giving the visitors a 9-2 edge.
The Pioneers would tie the game 11-11 four minutes later, but a layup from D.J. Iles followed by five points from Jones gave Wilmington back a six-point advantage. The Quakers would continue to lead by one or two possessions until an Caleb Hoyng converted a basket while being fouled with 4:41 to play in the first half. The hosts would lead for the first time (30-28) a minute later, but Wilmington ended the half on a 9-5 run fueled by five points from Nathan Scott.
Christian Jones scored the opening basket of the second half, but then came a 17-2 run from Marietta that put the Pioneers ahead 52-41 with 14:20 to play in regulation. The Quakers wouldn't quit, however, as a Nathan Scott three-pointer three minutes later cut the deficit to 56-52. Both teams scored on their next two possessions, and another Scott triple got Wilmington within a single possession (60-57) midway through the second half.
After a timeout from Marietta Head Coach John VanderWal, the Pioneers delivered the knockout punch, a 14-4 run over five minutes, to take a 74-61 lead. Wilmington would not get within single digits the rest of the game.
"I'm really proud of our effort tonight," Head Men's Basketball Coach K.C. Hunt said. "We competed at a really high level, but couldn't sustain it for long enough. Their depth is what won them the game in the long run."
Marietta finished 33-of-66 (50 percent) from the field despite just a 4-of-16 (25 percent) night from distance. Wilmington made 26-of-62 (41.9 percent) field goal attempts and 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Quakers forced the Pioneers into 16 turnovers with some full-court pressure, but could not overcome a 48-26 rebounding deficit.
Individually, four Quakers scored in double figures including Christian Jones who led all scorers with 19 points to go along with three assists, two steals and a block. The Hamilton, Ohio, native finished his career seventh on the program's career scoring list with 1,379 points.
Scott and Will Patrick finished with 15 points each with Scott grabbed eight rebounds. Iles also finished with 10 points.
"We controlled the tempo in the first half and did a great job of finishing around the rim," said Hunt. "We had multiple opportunities throughout the season to lay down. Our senior class did not let us pack it in, and that was the same thing tonight."
Kyle Dixon led the Pioneers with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Avery Williams and Dillon Young both netted 13 points.
"I couldn't be happier to have coached those four men [the seniors]," Hunt said. "They have represented our program exactly the way we want, both on and off the court. Tonight, like our season, the were not going to let us go away."
Wilmington finishes its 2017-18 season with an 11-14 overall record and a 7-11 mark in OAC competition.