Wisconsin-Oshkosh knocks Marietta out of NCAA Tournament

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SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — It's hard to imagine Dillon Young not being a part of Marietta College's basketball team the past four years.

But it almost happened.

The first team All-Ohio Athletic Conference guard seriously considering quitting after his freshman year. Fortunately for the Pioneers, Young decided to come back and help lead Marietta to four-consecutive conference championships and four-straight NCAA Division III Tournament appearances.

After 118 games as a Pioneer, Young's career officially ended Friday evening after Marietta (21-7) fell to Wisconsin-Oshkosh 74-67 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Wittenberg's Pam Evans-Smith Arena.

"It's been an amazing ride," said Young, who scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. "I was thinking about quitting. Actually, I wanted to quit. But the coaches and teammates convinced me to stay. It is the best decision I ever made. I'm so close with so many of the guys, the coaches and the community."

Marietta coach Jon VanderWal, who called Young a friend following the tough loss, said he hated to see the sharpshooter's career end in the first round.

"It was a good NCAA tournament game, (Oshkosh) just made a couple of more plays than we did. I thought our guys competed, but we just don't shoot it well in this gym. … (Dillon) has been an incredible leader and a great player."

However, Marietta couldn't overcome a 5:16 scoring drought in the second half. About midway through the second half, Marietta jumped out to a 50-46 lead after DeVaughn Wingard was fouled on a lay-up and made the foul shot.

But the Titans responded with a 20-0 run and built a commanding 66-50 lead before Young made a layup with 7:10 to play.

"We had some long spurts where we went cold," VanderWal said.

Oshkosh coach Pat Juckem said the key to the run was the Titans' defense.

"I think we got stops 14 out of 16 possessions," he said. "When you have that many consecutive stops you get some baskets in transition."

Marietta didn't back down, though.

The Pioneers went on a 17-2 run to cut Oshkosh's lead to 68-67 with 55 seconds left in the game. But Marietta couldn't connect on another basket, even when Anthony Wallace picked up an errant pass and drove to the basket.

"I just lost my balance and whiffed it," he said. "I couldn't decide if I wanted to see if anyone was open for a 3-pointer or just make the layup."

Marietta came out firing in the first half and jumped out to a 7-0 lead and still led by seven at 19-12 at the 11:48 mark.

"They had us on our heels in the first eight minutes. They came at us," Juckem said.

Oshkosh (21-7) battled back and took a 22-21 lead on Jack Flynn's layup with 7:45 to play. The Titans extended the lead to nine (34-25) with 1:56 to play, but the Pioneers went on a 7-1 run to close the half.

Mike Hall hit a clutch 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to cut the Titans' lead to 35-34.

"There's a fine line when you make it to the tournament. We're not seeded like the Division I tournament. It's based off of mileage, so you will get two teams who can make a run in the tournament playing in the first round," VanderWal said. "It's a fine line between winning and losing, especially in the tournament."

The biggest difference in this first-round game was rebounding and foul shooting. The taller Titans outrebounded Marietta 47-30 and shot 13 foul shots to the Pioneers' three.

"(Rebounding) is something we take a lot of pride in," Juckem said. "If you give a good team like Marietta multiple opportunities you are going to pay for it."

Offensively, Marietta was led by Avery Williams' 12 points, while Caleb Hoyng added 11 points off of the bench. Kyle Dixon chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds, while Wallace and Wingard had nine points each.

"We knew rebounding was going to be a challenge going into the game. We were stressing to our ball team that we had to keep them off the glass. I thought we'd do a better job than losing by 17 on the glass," VanderWal said. "It's a credit to these guys for never giving up, though."

Oshkosh was paced by Charlie Noone and Adam Fravert, who had 14 points each. Fravert also had a huge game on the boards with 15 rebounds. Ben Boots and Flynn each had 13 points.

"We're excited to move on," Juckem said. "It was fun to study a Marietta program that we've heard a lot about. I gained an increased respect for their program. We knew we had to play very well to win."