PHOENIZ, Ariz. — Elmhurst College went 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 27 seconds to knock off No. 8 ranked Marietta College, 76-72, on Friday (Dec. 28) in the first round of the Desert Invitational. The loss drops Marietta to 10-1 on the season. Elmhurst improves to 7-4 overall.
The Pioneers play Lake Forest College, who lost 81-65 to Wisconsin La Crosse in the first round, Saturday at 4 p.m.
Sophomore Tim Kreeger led the Pioneers with 16 points and seven rebounds. Lukas Isaly finished with a career-high 15 points, while Kyle Dixon chipped in with 12 points and seven boards.
Jeremy Ireland paced Elmhurst with 18 points and eight rebounds. Jay Militello came off the bench to score 15 points. Jake Rhode and Nick Perry added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Neither team established any momentum in the first half as both were plagued by turnovers. The Pioneers committed 10 in the first 20 minutes, while the Bluejays turned the ball over seven times. The score was tied, 28-28, at the intermission.
Elmhurst went on a 9-1 run early in the second half to open an eight-point lead, 43-35, five minutes into the period. Marietta responded with 13 straight points to go in front, 48-43, with 11:44 left in the game. Kreeger scored six of MC's points during the run.
The Bluejays answered right back scoring seven consecutive points to grab the lead, 50-48, at the 9:34 mark. Elmhurst would not trail again.
Marietta managed to tie the game at 50, 52 and 56, but could not regain the lead. The Pioneers stayed within four points down the stretch but Elmhurst hit 6-of-8 from the floor to go along with all six free throws to secure the upset.
For the game, Marietta was 29-of-61 (47.5%) from the floor, 3-of-17 (17.6%) from three-point range and 11-of-13 (84.6%) at the free throw line. The Bluejays shot 48.3% (29-of-60) from the floor, 38.9% (7-of-18) behind the arc and 73.3% (11-of-15) at the line.
The Pioneers edged Elmhurst on the glass, 36-31. Marietta turned the ball over 16 times resulting in 19 Bluejay points, while Elmhurst committed 15 turnovers that MC turned into just six points.