SPRINGFIELD – Lovenson Xavier hit four free throws in the game’s final 11 seconds to secure a 67-63 Marietta College victory over Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday evening in the Great Lakes Invitational hosted by Wittenberg University.
The Pioneers split two games over the weekend and are now 3-1 on the season. The Titans move to 2-2 on the season after a 1-1 week.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our boys. I challenged them and said that we will know more about ourselves today and how we deal with problems,” Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal said. “After playing well yesterday, our boys responded strongly today. We showed courage and determination.”
Ryan Sroka hit two free throws to bring the Titans within two points, 63-61, with 56 seconds left in the game. Marietta missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and Hakim Williams scored again for Illinois Wesleyan.
Following Titan’s time, Xavier commits a major robbery and is distracted. He sank both free throws to push the lead to four, 65-61, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Illinois Wesleyan got a quick layup from Luke Yoder and called timeout with five seconds left.
Marietta inbounded the ball to Xavier and was immediately fouled. Junior sank both free throws for a 67-63 Pioneer lead. Illinois Wesleyan’s second three-pointer had been cleared as the final buzzer sounded.
Xavier led all players with 25 points to go along with five rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. Sahmi Willoughby had 16 points and 10 boards, while Cooper Parrott chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Sroka led the Titans in double figures with 15 points and six rebounds. Yoder finished with 12 points and nine boards, while Harrison Wilmsen and Nick Roper added 11 and 10 points.
Illinois Wesleyan led by as many as six points in the first 10 minutes of the game. Trey Bazzell’s layup gave the Titans a 20-14 lead at the 10:06 mark of the first half.
Marietta went on a 14-0 run to take an eight-point lead, 28-20, with 3:57 left in the first half. Xavier and David Sanford each had two buckets and Parrott and Willoughby each added three points during the Pioneer season.
The Pioneers led by 13 points in the first half and built an 11-point lead, 37-26, at halftime.
Illinois Wesleyan opened the second half with a 13-2 run to tie the game at 39-39 with 15:35 left on the clock. Marietta responded with a three-pointer from Xavier and Willoughby’s persistence and never trailed in the second half.
Marietta returns home to host Bethany College on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 4pm at Ban Johnson Arena.
The Marietta College women’s basketball team made its first road trip of the season and was defeated 83-58 by Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon. With the loss, the Pioneers fell to 3-1. The win put Ohio Wesleyan’s overall record at 3-1.
“Credit OWU, he controlled the game at the start of each half,” said Marietta head coach Kole Vivian. “We had good battles in the second and fourth quarters, but we weren’t strong enough today. I’m glad that the loss happened early and we have a chance to treat ourselves a little bit before opening the OAC games in two weeks.”
Marietta broke the game open in the first quarter, shooting 3-of-13 from the field and turning 10. Olivia Gribble got the Pioneers on the board with a three-pointer, but those would be the only points in the next four minutes. The Battling Bishops took the lead with two buckets from Alyssa Griner and, after three points from Lauren Denison, led 13-3. By the time Graci Semptimpheler hit a jumper with three minutes left, Ohio Wesleyan led 20-6. Makenzie Wilson’s layup and free throw cut the lead to 13 at the 1:30 mark, but ended the quarter trailing 27-11.
Marietta led throughout the second period, getting three-pointers from Gribble and Paige Tolson and layups from Kelly Levering and Hannah Schill. With less than four minutes left in the half, Schill connected on another layup to make it 34-25, their closest margin since midway through the first period. Another Gribble triple was answered by a three-pointer from Mia Guscoff and the Pioneers pulled to within 40-28.
Wilson scored Pioneer’s first shot in the third quarter, but Ohio Wesleyan then went on a 20-0 run to push the lead to 60-30. Ally Grake nailed a three-pointer in the closing seconds to slow the pace but the Pioneers ended the third trailing 63-36.
Marietta had a better shot in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Fighting Bishops 22-20 in the quarter, but the margin was too great to overcome. Schill hit one and Gribble hit two three-pointers, but in the end, the Pioneers fell to an 83-58 loss.
The Pioneers were led by Gribble with 15 points. Schill finished with nine points and three steals. Kelly Levering led the way with eight.
Marietta will return to court after the Thanksgiving break. He will travel to the University of Heidelberg on Saturday for a meeting, and the warning will be scheduled at 2 p.m