Marietta buries Medaille with record-setting three-point shooting

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MARIETTA, Ohio — For about two minutes, Marietta coach Jon VanderWal had a legitimate reason to be concerned.

The Pioneers missed its first three baskets — all three-pointers — in their first-round game of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament against Medaille at Ban Johnson Arena Friday night.

Then junior Luis Garcia banged home a three-pointer and 12th-ranked Marietta went on a tear en route to a 120-81 victory in front of 1,361 fans. Garcia's basket was the first of a school-record 21 — eclipsing the old mark of 19. The Pioneers never trailed in the contest.

"Once you see a couple go in it gets kind of contagious," said VanderWal, who is now 3-2 in NCAA games. "I was expecting a much closer game than this, but sometimes you just get on a roll. … It reminds me of a game earlier this season against Waynesburg when we won by like 50 (96-44). Waynesburg is better than that, but we just got hot and made everything. The same thing happened tonight."

Marietta (26-3) eclipsed the 100-point plateau with 9:43 remaining in the game, and the Pioneers had a 46-point advantage. That allowed VanderWal to clear the bench and give all of his varsity players some postseason minutes.

"It's nice to get to save some of the guys legs," VanderWal said.

Up next is a highly anticipated showdown with Wooster, who defeated Misericordia earlier in the day 84-59. Marietta faced the Fighting Scots (23-6) the past two seasons, but lost close games each time. Wooster won 81-78 last season and 59-57 in 2012-13.

"We know Wooster pretty well and we have a lot of respect for their coach Steve Moore and what he has done there," VanderWal said. "They have a really talented group."

Marietta will get another shot at Wooster thanks to a performance that saw every Pioneer score a point. Garcia led the charge with 21 points on a 6-for-8 night from behind the three-point line.

"We moved the ball real well tonight, and we were just getting open shots," he said. "No single player can take credit for this game. We all found open guys and they made shots."

Junior Eddy Grenert had another solid performance as he scored 17 points and added six rebounds. He made 3-of-3 three-pointers.

"I've never scored 120 points in my life," Grenert said.

Marietta also had strong offensive showings from sophomore A.J. Edwards, junior RaNeal Ewing and senior Andy Dollman as each scored 11 points. Senior Garrett Stephenson added nine points and freshman Dillon Young had eight. Freshman Connor McCreary also had nine points.

Medaille coach Mike Blaine said he knew Marietta was talented, but he was shocked at how the game played out.

"We've got tremendous offensive firepower, but at best, we are solid on defense," he said. "Even when we did everything right on defense, Marietta was still banging shots. That took a little bit of our intensity away."

While disappointed in the outcome, Blaine still found some positives to talk about.

"We needed to play our best tonight and we certainly fell short of that goal. Marietta showed us how good we have to be to get to the next level," he said. "However, we are proud that we continued to play as hard as possible and stayed together. Those qualities helped us win an AMCC Championship, which we will always remember."

Jammal Coleman closed out his career with the Mavericks by scoring 18 points and grabbing four rebounds, while Cooper Calzonetti added 20 points and eight rebounds.

With a win Saturday, Marietta would advance to the Sweet 16 for just the second time in program history. VanderWal guided the Pioneers to that point in 2010-11. Wooster, however, is a perennial power that has finished runner-up twice.

Tickets for go on sale at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena, and tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.