The seventh-ranked College of Wooster men's basketball team remained within striking distance for a majority of the first half, but 17th-ranked Marietta College led wire-to-wire, and strung together a decisive 27-9 run over the final 8:20 of the opening half during the Pioneers' 99-70 win on Wednesday evening at Ban Johnson Arena in Marietta, Ohio.
Marietta (4-0), who topped its second-straight D3hoops.com top-10 opponent, jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 18:37 remaining in the game, with Kyle Dixon playing a big role in that opening stretch, connecting on a jumper and a 3-pointer that went for five of his 16 first-half points.
Junior Spencer Williams put Wooster (2-1) on the board with 18:11 left in the half on a 3-pointer, that made it a 7-3 game. Later a lay-in from senior Dan Fanelly pulled Wooster within four again at 10-6 with 16:50 left in the opening half.
Then, the two teams traded baskets on the next few possessions before Wooster trimmed its deficit from eight to four. On that stretch, freshman Danyon Hempy fed junior Alex Baptiste for a layup before sophomore Reece Dupler finished near the basket to make it an 18-14 with 12:35 left in the first half.
Wooster made it a four-point game three more times in the first half, first on a Hempy jumper, then on a Fanelly layup, and lastly on a second Fanelly layup before the Pioneers pulled away.
Dillon Young sparked the decisive run with a layup that started an 8-0 Marietta run in which the Pioneers' lead grew to 32-30 with 5:47 left in the frame. A few minutes later, Young again was at the center of attention with a 3-pointer that led to a 12-1 run by Marietta enabling the Pioneers to close the half with a 51-29 lead.
The second half featured a similar storyline as the two teams were virtually neck-and-neck on the scoreboard over the first 11:50 of the half with Wooster holding a slim 26-24 edge on second-half points. Then, Young sank a pair of free throws with 8:10 left in the game, and the Pioneers went on to outscore the Scots 24-15 down the stretch.
Wooster's posts found success on the inside just over 2:30 into the second half as Fanelly finished an and-one play and Baptiste connected on a pair of free throws on the Scots' next offensive possession to cut the deficit to 19 at 55-36 with 16:56 left in the contest.
Later, an 8-2 run, with six of the points coming from Williams pulled Wooster within 16 at 66-50 with 11:52 left in the second half, the closest the Scots came to the Pioneers for the rest of the contest.
Fanelly led Wooster on the night with 20 points – his second straight 20-point game. Notable, the senior moved into the top-20 on the program's all-time scoring list during the contest.
Baptiste turned in a productive night on both ends of the floor and finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks.
Dixon and Young led Marietta with 22 points each.
Next, Wooster returns home to take on St. John Fisher College (3-0) on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m.