Marietta holds off La Roche for 91-97 win

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MARIETTA, Ohio — Marietta College held off a late surge by la Roche College to defeat the Redhawks, 91-87, Friday (Nov. 16) evening in the first round of the 48th annual Marietta Shrine Tournament sponsored by BSN Sports and Best Western Plus.

The Pioneers improve to 3-0 on the season and will play Saint Vincent, an 81-67 winner over Wesley, in Saturday's championship game at 7 p.m. The win made head coach Jon VanderWal the winningest coach in program history with 214 career victories at the helm of the Navy Blue and White. VanderWal surpasses Phil Roach who coached the Pioneers for 19 seasons.

La Roche (0-1 overall) hit the first bucket of the game for its only lead of the night. The Pioneers surged in front and pushed the lead to as many as 19 points, 35-16, in the opening period. Marietta took a 51-40 lead into halftime.

The Redhawks took advantage of Marietta's cold shooting in the second half to get back into the game. A three-pointer from Ryan Norkus cut the Pioneer lead to one, 66-65, with 9:50 left in the game.

Marietta never fell behind in the period, but the Redhawks tied the game, 78-78, with just over three minutes remaining on a jumper from Ray Quan Phifer. The Pioneers responded with a layup from Jason Ellis and a pair of free throws from Tim Kreeger pushing the lead back to four.

Phifer answered with a jumper to get La Riche within two but that would be as close as the Redhawks could get. Lukas Isaly drained two free throws and Anthony Wallace hit a short jumper for a six-point Pioneer lead, 86-80, with 51 seconds remaining.

Ellis, who poured in 24 points in the first half, led all scorers with 26 points. Kyle Dixon finished with 23 points and six rebounds, while Wallace chipped in with 14 points and Mike Hall added 11.

Phifer led the Redhawks with 25 points. Tyler Frederick notched a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 13 boards. Darius Lawrence scored 13 points and Zach Gould added 11.

La Roche will face Wesley in the consolation game Saturday at 5 p.m.