St. John's graduate Tim Kreeger earned his second double-double of the season on Saturday. (Photo submitted)
St. John's graduate Tim Kreeger earned his second double-double of the season on Saturday. (Photo submitted)

MARIETTA – Christian James poured in a career high 24 points leading Marietta College to a 96-75 win over visiting Heidelberg University Saturday afternoon in Ban Johnson Arena. The Pioneers improve to 12-1 overall and 6-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Heidelberg slips to 5-8 on the season and 3-3 in league games.

“Coach Bucheit is doing a great job at Heidelberg. His kids are playing really hard,” Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal said. “We had to fight and claw for everything today. We couldn’t pull away until late in the second half.”

James was 9-of-17 from the floor, including a trio of three-pointers, and a perfect 3-of-3 at the free throw line to lead four Pioneers in double figures. He also dished out four assists. St. John’s graduate Tim Kreeger added his second double-double of the season with 17 points and a career best 14 boards.

Jason Ellis finished with 15 points in his first game back after missing two games with a leg injury, Lukas Isaly chipped in with points.

The game opened as a tight battle when Marietta held a 12-11 advantage five minutes into the contest. The early Pioneer offense came from Ellis, Mike Hall, Caleb Hoyng, and James. A quick 5-0 Marietta run extended the Pioneers’ lead to 17-11, behind a three-pointer from Hoyng and a jumper from Ellis.

The teams continued to battle, and at the 10:27 minute mark of the half Marietta took a timeout, with a 20-16 advantage. Out of the break, each team scored but a quick pair of layups from Kreeger and Ellis stretched the Pioneer lead to 29-20 and forced a Heidelberg timeout.

Through the middle of the half Marietta attempted to pull away numerous times but the Student Princes always had an answer, and the Pioneers held a slim 37-31 edge with just over four minutes to play in the half. Marietta closed out the half with a 42-33 advantage.

At the half the Pioneers were led by Ellis who had 13 points. Kreeger led the team in rebounds with six. James added nine points and dished out three assists in the first 20 minutes.

The teams traded baskets to open the second half and Marietta led 53-48 six minutes into the second period. The Pioneers used a 12-3 run to quickly extended their lead to 65-51. The run was highlighted by a four-point play from Isaly. Marietta used the spark provided by Isaly and led, 73-57, with just under nine minutes remaining in the game.

Heidelberg managed to trim the lead to 75-61, but the Pioneers answered with a 7-0 run that stretched their lead to 82-61 at the 5:34 mark. The run was a well-rounded attack with buckets from James, Mason Lydic, and Ellis. The Student Princes trimmed the lead to 15 but got no closer and Marietta won the game 96-75.

Tamal Watkins led Heidelberg with 17 points. Seth Hohman and Alex Arellano added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Marietta will return to the court Wednesday when they travel to take on Capital University. Tip off scheduled for 7 p.m. They will also travel to Ada on Saturday to take on Ohio Northern University with a 5 p.m. start time.