No. 5 Marietta holds off a scrappy Heidelberg team 80-74

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MARIETTA, Ohio — No. 5 ranked Marietta College jumped out to a big lead early and then had to hold off a scrappy Heidelberg University squad escaping with an 80-74 win Saturday (Jan. 24) afternoon in Ohio Athletic Conference men's basketball action. The Pioneers are 17-0 on the season and 10-0 in the OAC, while the Student Princes slip to 7-10 and 3-7 in the OAC.

It was not pretty early for the Student Princes, as the Pioneers jumped out to an 18-5 lead at the 14:20 mark. Marietta was shooting over 80% over midway through the first half, roaring out to a lead that was as many as 37-17 with 7:31 to play.

Heidelberg ended the half on a 15-3 run, ending the half with a pair of treys from Ben Jones and James Hanley to make the score 42-35 at halftime. Marietta's RaNeal Ewing and Dillon Young scored 12 and 10 points, respectively to help the Pioneers overcome 10 first half turnovers.

After a Heidelberg layup to open up the second period, Marietta went on a quick 6-0 run to make the score 48-37 with 17:52 remaining. Back-to-back buckets by Doug Waldmannstetter and Marcquice Taylor cut the deficit all the way down to three at the 11:47 mark.

Garrett Stephenson and Ewing nearly brought the house down with back-to-back dunks whipping the capacity crowd into a frenzy and widening the margin back out to a 62-54 with 8:51 to play.

The Berg rallied back again, however, as a Shane Lee layup with 6:58 remaining made the score 62-60. With that lead holding steady, a three-pointer by Jones with just 2:07 pulled Heidelberg within one, 72-71, the closest they had been since the 18:55 mark of the first half.

MC's Andy Dollman converted an old-fashioned 3-point play on the ensuing possession and Luis Garcia pulled down a crucial defensive rebound once the Berg got the ball back. Clutch free throw shooting and timely defense helped the host remain unbeaten on the season and hold on for the 80-74 win.

Ewing finished with a game-high 23 points. Stephenson and Dillon each scored 13, while, Dollman added 10 points. Eddy Grenert dominated the glass with 13 rebounds, while Stephenson grabbed eight.

Taylor led Heidelberg with 16 points and five rebounds. Jones scored 15 points and DeAvery Collins added 12 points.

For the game, Marietta shot 56.9% (29-of-51) from the floor, 34.8% (8-of-23) behind the arc and 63.6% (14-of-22) at the line. Heidelberg was 29-of-64 (45.3%) from the floor, 5-of-22 (22.7%) from three-point range and 11-of-22 (50.0%) at the line.

Marietta had another dominate performance on the glass outrebounding the Student Princes 48-25. Heidelberg's pressing defense forced 17 Pioneers turnovers, while the Student Princes committed only three turnovers.

Marietta hosts rival Muskingum University on Wednesday (Jan. 28) for a 7:30 p.m. contest.