Marietta stands in way of Finals trip

February 20, 2013

Senior Brandon Candella is the second-leading scorer for the Fightin' Quakers. (Wilmington file photo)

Senior Brandon Candella is the second-leading scorer for the Fightin' Quakers. (Wilmington file photo)

If the Wilmington College men’s basketball team wants the chance to play in Saturday’s Ohio Athletic Conference final for the second straight season, the Fightin’ Quakers will have to achieve a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2009 – win at Marietta. The two teams meet 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. (Tournament Website, Audio Feed, Live Stats)

The Pioneers won both meetings this season, including a 98-87 win in Marietta, and has won the last seven matchups. The last time the two teams met in the OAC tournament, MC recorded the 83-74 win two years ago.

“Marietta is a really good basketball team with five good seniors,” said Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt. “Their guards have given us fits. We have to do a better job of controlling tempo and making sure we stop the ball earlier and find shooters. There a really good basketball team, it’s going to be a hostile environment and we are looking forward to it.”

Balanced scoring is Marietta’s biggest strength as the league’s leading scoring team has just one player averaging double figures. Senior J.J. Martin is second in the league with 16.9 points per game, while junior Tyler Hammond is second on the team with 9.9 points per game.

Martin and senior Jacob Owens combined for 52 points in the team’s second meeting this season as Wilmington allowed 98 points, the most in any game during regulation this season. Mount Union reached 102 in a double-overtime game. The senior pair also reached double figures in the team’s first meeting of the season.

Junior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) is averaging just 8.5 points per game against Marietta, including a career-low two points in the team’s first meeting. In his only appearance against MU, junior Jordan Berlin (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) set a career-high of 22 points. Berlin is coming off a 22-point performance in Wilmington’s second round victory over Ohio Northern Tuesday.

Senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West) scored in double digits in both meetings, and is averaging 17.0 points with five rebounds. Junior Klarke Ransome (Richwood, OH/North Union) has averaged 12.0 points against the Pioneers.