MARIETTA, Ohio (WROC) — Second-ranked Marietta College outlasted the University of Rochester, 88-83 in overtime, to reach the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division III men’s basketball playoffs next weekend. The Pioneers won their 25th consecutive game and improved to 27-2 overall. Rochester finished the season at 18-9.
Ross Gang led Rochester with 22 points. All five starters hit double figures. Brian Amabilino Perez scored 15 (and had eight rebounds). Matt Wiele scored 12 points, had six boards, and five assists. Trent Noordsij scored 11 points (with five rebounds), and Dan Masino scored 10. Matt Niemczura had eight points off the bench.
Marietta’s leader was Lukas Isaly. He scored 33 points, hitting 6 of 12 from three-point range, nine of 23 overall, and nine of 10 at the line. He added six rebounds – several crucial ones late in the second half and OT. Tim Kreeger scored 15 points for MC. Jason Ellis had 10 points and five rebounds. Sahmer Willoughby had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds – seven off the offensive glass.
Rochester shot .468 from the floor (29-62) and .412 outside the arc (7-17). Gang hit three treys, Niemczura had two, Masino and Noordsij one apiece. Friday night, the Yellowjackets were 3-10 from distance. UR’s foul shooting was a little off-target. Granted, the Yellowjackets hit nine of 10 from the stripe in the second half. But they were 9-16 between the first half and the overtime period. For the game, the Yellowjackets made 18 of 26 shots (.692).
Marietta connected on 30 of 74 shots (.405), nine of 27 outside the arc (.333), and 19 of 28 at the line (.679). The Pioneers held a 46-40 edge on the glass, 30-8 at Rochester’s end of the floor. Conversely, the Yellowjackets held a 32-16 advantage on the Marietta glass.
The Pioneers thrive on producing points off opponent turnovers. They average 18 points a game in this category, mainly due to their quickness. Rochester had 12 turnovers and gave up 13 points. The Yellowjackets scored four points off nine Marietta giveaways. UR did score 40 points in the paint, compared to 28 by the hosts.
The opening round victory for Rochester on Friday night was all about offensive execution. UR defeated Eastern University, 88-63, running a series of backdoor cuts for layups and pushing the ball into the post. Rochester scored 58 of its 88 points in the paint.
This game was about intensity – defensively, in the paint, and offensively. Marietta averages 84 points a game and pushes the ball down the floor. With a full house of supporters in the Ban Johnson Arena, the Pioneers came out quickly. They challenged shots, they tipped away passes to disrupt Rochester’s offense, and they were physical. An early scoring flurry helped Marietta jump ahead, 16-6, through the first seven minutes.
Rochester settled down and regrouped. The Yellowjackets strung together an 11-4 run over three minutes to get within 20-17. It started with an Andrew Jackson free throw. Then Niemczura drilled a three-pointer from the left corner. Amabilino Perez scored on a reverse, Wiele put home an alley-oop from the top of the key, Noordsij made one free throw, and T.C. Price drove for a layup.
Marietta got it as high as seven points, 28-21, on a fastbreak layup by Kreeger. The hosts lost sight of the basket over the last four minutes of the half. Rochester closed the period on an 11-3 run for a 32-31 lead at intermission. Five players scored in the burst – C.J. Anselem, Niemczura, Noordsij, Dan Masino, and Wiele.
In the second half, Marietta rode Isaly’s scoring antics to stay level. He hit all six of his three-pointers in the second period. Five minutes into the second half, he sank back-to-back treys, putting the hosts ahead by three (46-43). He came down maybe 20 seconds later and with the whole crowd ready to explode, hit the side of the rim and Rochester rebounded. The ball found its way to Niemczura who hit a game-tying trey (46-46, with 14:08 to go).
The game had 14 ties and 14 lead changes. Players on both sides found ways to make big plays. With Marietta ahead, 59-57, Gang made both ends of a one-and-one to tie it. Isaly converted a four-point play, hitting from the top of the key and adding a free throw for a 63-59 lead. Gang and Masino converted both shots in one-and-ones and Wiele drove for a layup to move ahead, 65-63. A three-point play put MC ahead by one, and Gang answered with a hook in the center of the lane (67-66 UR). Masino drove the length of the court for a layup and a 69-66 lead.
It continued to go back and forth. Gang’s triple from the right side put Rochester up, 74-71 with 90 seconds left. Isaly answered with a triple and drew a foul – but he missed the foul shot that would have put Marietta ahead by one. Neither team scored in the last 50 seconds.
Marietta scored three early baskets in OT, fending off three free throws by Rochester. A backdoor layup by Kreeger made it an 80-76 edge. Masino made one free throw and Isaly’s layup restored the lead to 82-77. UR did have a chance to get even in the last 40 seconds. Wiele drove for a layup (83-81 with 1:02 left). After two free throws by Isaly, Gang made two for UR at 0:16. Masino stole a pass from Jason Ellis. The ball came to Niemczura with 10 seconds left. His jumper was off. Isaly grabbed it, was fouled, and made two free throws for an 87-83 edge.