Saturday men: A new team on top

A.J. Edwards throws down two of his 21 points on John Carroll.
Marietta athletics photo by Nate Knobel Photography

Marietta sent John Carroll to its second consecutive loss, while Franklin and Marshall lost at an old nemesis and Albertus Magnus served notice it was not ready to go away just yet in Division III men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon.

In front of a sold-out crowd at Ban Johnson Arena, No. 8 Marietta used a 13-4 run in the second half to open up a nine-point lead and the Pioneers were able to keep No. 3 John Carroll at bay just enough to eke out an 86-81 win.

The Pioneers (21-2, 15-1 OAC) used balanced scoring up and down the lineup as A.J. Edwards scored a game-high 21, Luis Garcia 19 and Anthony Wallace added 14 off the bench. David Linane, who has had his share of big games for the Blue Streaks (21-2, 14-2), was held to 2-for-14 shooting and turned the ball over six times while John Carroll was led by 20 from Danny Wallack.

The loss knocked the Blue Streaks out of first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

On Jan. 13, Johnson and Wales made a statement as to who the top dog was in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference was for 2015-16, crushing Albertus Magnus by 55 points, 113-58. On Saturday, however, the Falcons said, 'not so fast' and returned the favor with a 102-94 win at home.

The Falcons (16-5, 12-4 GNAC) mainly relied on just six players in the win, led by Ryan Pittman, who played all 40 minutes and scored 34 points, including 17-for-21 shooting from the foul line. Quarry Greenway led all scorers with 35 for Johnson and Wales, which picked up just its first conference loss and second loss overall, remaining a game ahead of Lasell for the top seed with a head-to-head sweep of the Lasers in the books.

Johns Hopkins returned to .500 on the season as Ryan Curran poured in a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds off the bench and Matt Billups had 12 points and blocked six shots in the Blue Jays' 74-69 home win vs. Franklin and Marshall. The 16th-ranked Diplomats, who were led by 19 points from Brandon Federici, fell to 18-4, 13-2 in the Centennial. but remain comfortably in front of the conference race, leading Swarthmore by two and a half games.

Gerry Matthews watched his team pick up his 600th career victory with a 76-56 win vs. Kean on Saturday. Marcus Harmon scored a team-high 15 points as Matthews became the 16th coach in Division III history to reach the milestone. New Jersey City clinched the top seed in the NJAC tournament, however, defeating Montclair State 82-59, behind a career-high 30 points from Jalen Harris. The Gothic Knights lead Stockton by one game with one game to play and have swept the Ospreys.

North Central finished the regular-season sweep of Elmhurst as the No. 18 Cardinals defeated the No. 8 Bluejays 79-64. Elmhurst (20-4, 10-3 CCIW) could not overcome a poor shooting night and six 3-pointers from North Central (18-6, 11-2) in the second half. Erwin Henry scored a game-high 28 points, 17 of them after halftime.

Wesleyan wrapped up a dismal NESCAC trip to Maine, falling 73-64 at Colby and dropping to 5-5 in the conference. Patrick Stewart was hot, with 20 points on 6-for-10 3-pont shooting, while Chris Hudnut added a double-double with 19 points and 15 boards. The No. 20 Cardinals will be the fifth seed in the NESCAC tournament, which starts next Saturday. Trinity (Conn.) is the top seed, followed by Amherst, Tufts and Middlebury rounding out the top five. 

Oswego State stunned No. 22 Plattsburgh State 90-74 on the road. With the victory, Oswego hands the Cardinals just their second conference loss of the year and clinches a spot in the SUNYAC tournament. Brian Sortino scored a game-high 38 points to lead the Lakers to their eighth win in nine games.

No. 4 St. Thomas wrapped up the top seed in the MIAC for the 11th year running as Cortez Tillman scored all of his game-high 18 points in the second half and Ryan Saarela added 14 points and 15 rebounds in a 75-59 win at Bethel. Augsburg, which beat St. Thomas on Wednesday, continued its drive for a berth in the MIAC playoffs, rolling out to a 41-27 halftime lead and winning 80-72 at Carleton. The win puts Augsburg in a three-way tie with Bethel and Carleton for the final two playoff spots.

No. 2 Benedictine improved to 24-0, setting the school record for wins in the process, with an 88-54 win vs. Edgewood. The 1990-91 Eagles advanced to the Elite Eight, defeating DePauw and Randolph-Macon before getting crushed by the first Bo Ryan national champion UW-Platteville team.

Keith Kahlfeldt scored 42 and Eric Kittel added 28 points as Concordia (Wis.) defeated Aurora 120-110 in a shootout in NACC play. The loss, which dropped Aurora to 18-5, 14-4 NACC, makes it harder for Aurora to make a strong case for an at-large bid if it can't get past Benedictine in the conference tournament.

UW-Oshkosh took UW-La Crosse down a notch and moved to within a game of first place in the WIAC as the Titans edged the Eagles 62-60. La Crosse (15-8, 9-3 WIAC) missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and the putback came too late, after the buzzer. AJ Mueller led UW-Oshkosh (15-8, 9-4) with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Brendan Boken had a fine senior day for Scranton, leading the Royals to their seventh consecutive win and moving past the 1,800-point mark in Scranton's 77-57 win vs. Goucher. Scranton improved to 18-5, 11-4 in the Landmark, and into a virtual tie for first with Susquehanna and Catholic, each of whom plays three games in the next eight days because of the season's earlier snow.

Wooster scored 12 of its 21 points in overtime from the foul line as the Scots defeated archrival Wittenberg 99-86. Spencer Williams scored a game-high 22 and Mitch Balser added 19 as Wooster improved to 17-6 overall, 13-3 in the NCAC, remaining in a tie for first with Ohio Wesleyan.

Korey Hayman hit a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left to give Stevenson its only lead of the game, but it turned out to be the only lead the Mustangs would need as they won at Albright, 76-73. The Lions (10-14, 7-8 MAC Commonwealth) led by as many as 11 in the first half and were up by 10 with 6:44 left, but Stevenson (9-14, 7-7) went on a 12-2 run to tie the game at 12 on another of Hayman's 3-pointers and Ryan Hill followed Hayman's final 3-ball with two foul shots to win it.

Chris Courtney went 8-for-12 from 3-point range as part of a barrage of 19 3-balls for Wells as the Express powered its way past Penn College 85-59. Wells improved to 10-12, 8-7 in the NEAC.