Marietta buzzer-beater beats Quakers
WC suffers first OAC loss
December 21, 2011
Malcolm Heard II (at left) scored career-high 26 points in Wilmington's 65-63 loss to Marietta.
Joe Puch’s stick-back at the final buzzer lifted No. 20 Marietta College to a 65-63 win over Wilmington College in an Ohio Athletic Conference thriller at Fred Raizk Arena Wednesday night.
The win drops the Quakers to 4-1 in the OAC, 5-5 overall. Marietta, the defending conference champion, is 3-2 in the OAC, 7-3 overall.
“We talked to the guys after the game, and I know they get annoyed with us preaching the same thing each and every day,” Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt said. “Whether it’s close-outs, box-outs, knowing personnel; we didn’t enough little things tonight to get the one big thing we wanted, which was the W.”
The Quakers and Pioneers battled from the opening tip to the final horn. The score was tied nine times in the first half before Marietta took a 35-32 lead at the break.
“We didn’t create enough offense from our defense in the first half,” Hunt said. “Our deflections and loose balls — things that we take a ton of pride in — we didn’t do enough of that in the first half. Our intensity level picked up a little bit in the second half.”
Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington) kept Wilmington in the game by scoring 19 of his game- and career-high 26 points in the opening period.
“Malcolm was a man among boys tonight,” Hunt said. “He had a hot hand going, and our guys did a great job of feeding him the ball in spots where he could do something with it. But we need a better overall team effort. We need guys to make more open shots and play with more confidence. That’s the biggest issue I have.”
The second half was just as tight as the first. Both teams enjoyed four-point leads, but neither squad threatened to pull away.
When Heard fed R.J. Leppert (Liberty Township/Lakota East) for a lay-in with 22 seconds to play, the game was tied for the 15th time — at 63 — and overtime seemed like a strong possibility.
The Pioneers, who were coming off a last-second home loss to Ohio Northern, turned the karma table on Wilmington. Tyler Hammond, whose dribble-drives created havoc throughout the game, attacked the basket. Hammond put up a shot that bounced off the iron and into the hands of Puch, who banked a shot home as time expired.
“You have to give Marietta a lot of credit. They are tough to guard and have really good players, but I think our lack of energy and focus helped them a little bit," Hunt said. "We knew that we were going to get Marietta’s best shot, and we did. They came in and played really hard. They won the battle of the 50-50 balls and hustle plays. Our young guys who were on the floor at the end of the game learned a valuable lesson. You’ve got to be an urgent basketball player and basketball team to win a championship or compete at a championship level.”
Dwight Johnson (Dayton/Jefferson) scored eight points and pulled down four rebounds. Brandon Candella (West Chester/Lakota West) scored seven second-half points while Ben Vonderhaar (Cincinnati/Colerain) and Leppert added six points apiece.