College basketball: Pioneers hoping to cruise at Mount Union, John Carroll

Marietta College is hoping to skip the dramatics when it plays the University of Mount Union in an Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball game in the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

But if it does come down to a last-second shot….

“That’s the thing about our team, everyone wants to take the last, game-winning shot, which is great,” said MC junior point Tyler Hammond after the Jon VanderWal-coached Pioneers (17-6, 13-3) beat visiting Baldwin-Wallace, 72-70, on Jacob (J.O.) Owens’ three with six seconds remaining in the contest last Saturday.

Hammond helped make Owens’ game-winner possible with an offensive rebound and a dish assist. He would’ve taken the shot himself if he’d had a better look.

“I was really far underneath the basket, and the (Baldwin-Wallace) guy that I got the rebound from was 6-foot-6, and I’m about…5-11 to be generous.”

Hammond smiled.

“It would’ve been a tough shot,” he continued, “and the way the game was going, they (refs) usually don’t call that (fouls) under there.”

After Hammond collected the airball, which was launched by Owens, he had the presence of mind to kick it back out to his teammate for another shot at the basket.

This time, Owens didn’t miss.

“Everybody’s got confidence in me,” Owens said. “So, I shoot it with confidence, and hopefully it goes down, and it did.”

Indeed, it did, and Marietta College won to stay one game behind first-place Capital University, which defeated Otterbein 75-64 on Saturday.

Now, the Pioneers have two games remaining in regular-season play, and both are on the road, at Mount Union, and then at John Carroll University this Saturday.

Capital has two games left also, and both are at home.

“We want to finish strong,” Owens said, “and hopefully Capital drops one.”

Hammond agreed and added, “Hopefully, we can win out. We’re just going one game at a time. It’ll be tough on the road, but as long as we have the eye of the Tiger, like we did against B-W, we should be fine.”

Marietta defeated Mount Union, 97-90, in the first meeting at Ban Johnson Arena on Jan. 9. J.J. Martin torched the Purple Raiders for a career-high 33 points. Scott Kimmey and Brennan McKean added 13 points apiece, and Tyler Worstell netted 11.

Mount Union shot the ball pretty well itself, and had five players in double-figures.

The Purple Raiders (11-12, 9-7), winners of three straight, are coming off a 72-57 triumph at Ohio Northern last Saturday. Sophomore Nate Jacubec led the way with a game-high 24 points. Former Williamstown standout Matt Kiger chipped in with 11 markers.

After the Mount Union game, MC is scheduled to journey to University Heights to play John Carroll at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Pioneers defeated the Blue Streaks, 81-70, in the first matchup on Jan. 12.

Owens paced the navy blue and white cagers with 20 points on seven of seven from the floor.

Two tough games for MC to close out regular-season play, and to get ready for OAC Tournament competition.