MARIETTA, OH - The OCU Trailblazers took on the defending Ohio Athletic Conference tournament champions on Friday night, going up against NCAA affiliate Marietta College in what would prove to be a memorable game.
The Pioneers took control early on as they took a 16 point lead into halftime and then stretched their lead to 17 at the 14:18 mark of the second half. With Marietta leading 70-53 and only 14 minutes remaining in regulation, the Trailblazers responded with a dramatic comeback effort.
A 16-5 OCU run put the Trailblazers within striking distance, 75-69, with 7:56 remaining. The Trailblazers continued to chip away at the lead and a pair of free throws from Lawrence Parsons with 1:56 left knotted the game, 81-81. Wesley Russell then hit two free throws with 1:09 remaining to cut the deficit to one, at 84-83.
Marietta missed a layup on the ensuing possession and then committed a foul sending OCU to the line with 47 seconds left. The Trailblazers, who had converted 15-of-17 free throws in the game, missed both attempts giving the ball back to the Pioneers.
The OCU defense picked up a big defensive stop as Marietta missed a jump shot with 8.6 second remaining, setting up the potential game winning shot for Parsons. OCU pushed the ball up the court in transition and Parsons attempted the mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded, but it rattled in and out of the basket.
Wesley Russell led all scorers with 25 points including a 9-of-11 night at the free throw line. JJ Smith recorded a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nic Baker added a big spark with 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting from three point range.
Ohio Christian dominated the glass pulling down 44 rebounds to just 23 for the Pioneers. The Trailblazers committed 15 turnovers, while Marietta had only six.
For the game, OCU shot 29-of-58 (50.0%) from the floor, 10-of-28 (35.7%) behind the arc and 15-of-19 (78.9%) at the line. Marietta hit 33-of-64 (51.6%) from the floor, 11-of-23 (47.8%) from three-point range and 7-of-10 (70.0%) at the line.
OCU is back in action on Saturday as they take on Earlham College from Richmond, Indiana. The game is set to tip at 5:00 PM.