College women’s basketball: Lady Pioneers win annual Turkey Shoot

Ohio Valley University outscored Marietta College by a 40-31 count in the middle 20 minutes of Sunday’s 29th annual Turkey Shoot tournament final at Ban Johnson Arena.

Unfortunately for head coach David Wadlington and his Lady Scots, the Lady Pioneers completely dominated the other 20 minutes of the game as they outscored the Lady Scots 48-16 en route to a 79-56 victory, claiming the tournament for the 14th time.

Candice Alexander poured in 20 points while hauling down 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Pioneers (5-1) to their fifth straight victory of the season.

OVU got a quick bucket by Shelby Way to open the scoring but Pioneer senior guard Tori Dixon answered with a triple on the Pioneers’ first possession of the game to give MC a lead that they would never relinquish the rest of the way.

Dixon’s three-pointer was an historic one as it was the 163rd of her Pioneer career, good enough to pass Amanda Carraher’s record established back in 2009.

The Lady Scots pulled to within three of the Pioneers on a three-ball from Saira House but the gray and blue erupted for a 17-4 run to push the lead out to 29-11 with 8:22 to play in the half.

MC extended its advantage to an even 20 at 34-14, before Ohio Valley closed the first half on a 10-3 run to trim the lead to 37-24 at the break.

It appeared as if the Pioneers were primed to pull away from OVU in the second half as freshman Morgan Liedtke’s jumper with 13 minutes to play in the game gave Marietta its biggest lead of the night at 54-31.

The Lady Scots came charging right back as they used a full-court pressure defense to spark a 20-6 run and all of the sudden found themselves down by just nine points at 60-51 with seven minutes to play in the game.

That would be as close as the Scots would get, however, as the Lady Pios appeared to right their ship just in time to avoid letting the Scots creep back into the contest.

A pair of free throws by Liedtke pushed the Pio lead back to double figures and back-to-back buckets by Alexander and Frontier High School graduate Heather Booth made it 66-51.

A pair of Liedtke layups increased the lead to 19 and Booth and Dixon followed with consecutive scores as the Pios pushed the lead to 74-51 with just four minutes to play.

Pioneer head coach Staci Shrider was quite pleased with how her team dealt with adversity in the second half.

“They (OVU) made a little run and shortened our lead but I felt our girls showed some maturity coming back and handling that pressure and making that final run when we needed to,” said Shrider, in her sophomore season as head coach. “That 19-5 run at the end was the difference.”

Alexander, who was awarded the Lisa Wagner Most Valuable Player of the tournament after compiling 36 points in the two games, was one of four Lady Pioneers who finished the game in double figures.

“We knew what we wanted to do as a team and I think we did a pretty good job of keeping them out of the paint,” said Alexander, a Fairborn native. “We just have a good chemistry as a team.”

Dixon was relieved to get the historic three-pointer out of the way early in the game after being held scoreless in the Pioneers’ tournament opening 82-58 win over Mount St. Joseph on Saturday.

“It took a lot of pressure off of me for the rest of the game to get it out of the way that soon,” said Dixon who finished the game with 15 points, including three from behind the arc. “It’s very exciting to break the record and to be a part of this team and to make a difference.”

“We are very proud of her and it took a lot of hard work to be the all-time three-point shot leader,” said Shrider of the Vinton County graduate. “She is very deserving for sure.”

Joining Alexander and Dixon in double figures were Booth and Liedtke with 13 and 10 points respectively, while Mackenzie Kiser and Marietta High School graduate Paige Lamb just missed by scoring nine points apiece.

OVU was led in scoring by House with 12 points while Way reached double digits with 10.

Parkersburg’s own Imani Ward added eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Lady Scots.

Lamb, Kiser and Way were all-tournament selections along with Kenyon’s Maureen Hirt and Heidi McManus of Mount St. Joseph.

Marietta College, which improved to 5-1 on the season with the win, will now turn their attention to conference play as they open the Ohio Athletic Conference portion of its schedule Wednesday night at home against Otterbein.

“Its nice to go into conference play with five wins in a row,” said Shrider.

“As everybody knows our conference will be very competitive and we are excited to show teams what we are about this year.”