The Mount Union men's basketball team returns to the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex in Alliance when they host the Pioneers of Marietta College Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm. After playing nine of 11 games on the road, the Purple Raiders will play the next three games in front of their home crowd.
The Purple Raiders (8-13, 4-10) look to snap a four-game losing streak as they enter the final two weeks of the regular season in position to qualify for the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament. The Raiders have won just once since a hard-fought 80-78 overtime loss at Marietta on January 8th. Four players fouled out as the Raiders committed a season-high 33 fouls and Marietta attempted 45 free throws and just 42 field goals.
Mount Union boasts the conference's top defense, holding opponents to a conference-low 66.0 points per game and just 42.7-percent shooting from the field. The Raiders also average 66.0 points per game, which is tied in the conference, and have not reached that average since playing Marietta a few weeks ago.
Senior Jimmy Wood (Wintersville/Indian Creek) tops the conference in scoring at 17.9 points per game. He is also the leader in three-pointers (51) and is third in free-throw shooting (.800). Freshmen Nate Jacubec (Struthers/Struthers) and Stevie Griffin (Canton/Massillon Jackson) are among the conference's top newcomers in terms of scoring. Jacubec averages 11.2 points per game while Griffin averages 9.4 points per game for the Raiders.
Marietta (14-7, 9-5) lost 70-63 to Ohio Northern on Saturday, ending a five-game win streak. The Pioneers feature the conference's second-highest scoring offense at 74.2 points per game and are seventh in points allowed at 71.1 points per game on the season. They have struggled scoring of late, however, and have not surpassed 64 points over the past four games.
Senior Kevin Knab lead the conference in free throws (107), is second in field goal percentage (.596), and is third in scoring (16.9) this season. He scored 24 points and was 14-of-16 from the charity stripe against Mount Union earlier this season. The Pioneers have a balanced attack with no player averaging more than 9.0 points per game, but 10 others averaging at least 4.0 points per game. All-American Trevor Halter has played in just seven games this season and returned to play against Ohio Northern on Saturday for his first action in almost a month.
Mount Union fell in overtime to Marietta on January 18th, 80-78, snapping a three-game winning streak. A potential game-winning three-pointer by Jimmy Wood missed the mark in the game's closing seconds as Marietta outscored the Raiders 8-6 in the decisive overtime period.
Wood and Stevie Griffin led the way for the Raiders with 17 points apiece and combined for eight three-pointers. T.J. Gillespie, who scored four of the Raiders' six points in overtime, added 14 points off the bench.
Marietta was led by Kevin Knab, who scored 14 of his game-high 24 points from the free throw line and grabbed seven rebounds. Conner Kilpatrick and Jason Humphrey were also in double-digits with 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
This will be the 106th meeting all-time between with Mount Union holding a 64-41 advantage in the series. Marietta has won the past three meetings.
Projected Mount Union Starters
- #32 Stevie Griffin, 6-3, Fr., G – 9.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
- #4 Jimmy Wood, 6-6, Sr., F – 17.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg
- #44 Matt Wier, 6-7, Sr., C – 4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg
- #20 Nate Jacubec, 5-11, Fr., G – 11.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg
- #3 Justen Little, 5-11, Jr., G – 2.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.9 rpg
Projected Marietta Starters
- #23 Joe Puch, 6-3, Sr., W – 4.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
- #42 Conner Kilpatrick, 6-6, Sr., P – 6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg
- #44 Kevin Knabb, 6-6, Sr., P – 16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
- #15 Tyler Hammond, 5-10, So., PG – 9.0 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.4 rpg
- #22 Jacob Owens, 5-8, Jr., PG – 7.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Mike Fuline (Kent State '98) is in his first season at Mount Union after a successful career at the high school level that included winning the 2010 OHSAA Division I State Championship at Massillon Jackson. Fuline has the Purple Raiders off to an 8-13 start.
John VanderWal (Albion '01) has a 60-54 record in his fifth season at Marietta. Last season, he led the Pioneers to a 27-4 record and an appearance of the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 to earn NABC All-Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors. VanderWal came to Marietta after four seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio Wesleyan.
Mount Union hosts Ohio Northern on Saturday and Baldwin-Wallace next Wednesday before finishing the regular season at Heidelberg on Saturday, February 18th.
Re-writing the Record Books
Senior Jimmy Wood became the 26th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, reaching the milestone against Wilmington on December 17th. Wood currently ranks 16th on the school's career scoring list with 1,196 career points and needs four points to surpass Jim Howell for 15th place. He scored 14 points in the Purple Raiders' 75-61 loss at Wilmington on Saturday. At his current pace, Wood will likely end his career as one of the top ten scorers in school history.
While the scoring record is out of reach for Wood, he has a chance to break the record for most consecutive games played. He needs to just two more games to tie Kyle Schlabach's record of 101 consecutive games played.
The Raiders have tied a pair of school records this season. They made 13 three-pointers in back-to-back games against Immaculata (Pa.) and Lycoming (Pa.), tying the school record set against Baldwin-Wallace during the 1996-97 season. Their 33 three-point field goal attempts against Lycoming beat the school record previously set in the season-opener against Hiram.
The Raiders are on pace to set the record for most three-pointers in a season. The current record, set during the 2008-09 season, is 189 and the Raiders have made 166 already this season.
Mount Union Player Notes
Jimmy Darnley - So., F, Canton/GlenOak
- Averaging 6.2 mpg in 15 games off the bench
- Career-high 5 points at Ohio Northern (2/12/11)
- Career-high 4 rebounds vs. Wilmington (2/5/11)
T.J. Gillespie - So., G, Toledo/St. John's
- Averaging 6.6 ppg
- Has scored in double-figures six times this season
- Shooting a team-best 90% from the free throw line
- Missed two games earlier in the season due to an injury
- Season-high 19 points vs. Grove City (11/18/11)
- Career-high 20 points vs. Ohio Northern (1/8/11)
- Career-high 5 assists vs. Otterbein (1/22/11)
Stevie Griffin - Fr., F, Canton/Massillon Jackson
- Third on team in scoring (9.4) and three-pointers (35)
- Has scored in double-figures eight times this season
- Scored the go-ahead points in wins over Ohio Northern and Baldwin-Wallace earlier this month
- Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Tournament MVP
- Season-high/career-high 22 points and 6 three-pointers off the bench at Geneva (11/19/11)
- Season-high/career-high 8 rebounds vs. Westminster (11/22/11) and at Muskingum (2/1/12)
- Season-high/career-high 4 assists vs. Westminster (11/22/11)
- Played for Coach Fuline and won 2010 OHSAA Division I state title at Massillon Jackson High School
Nate Jacubec - Fr., G, Struthers/Struthers
- Second on team in scoring (11.2), three-pointers (37), and assists (40)
- Has scored in double-figures 12 times this season
- Season-high/career -high 21 points at Otterbein (1/21/12) and at John Carroll (1/25/12)
- Season-high/career-high 5 three-pointers at John Carroll (1/25/12)
- Season-high/career-high 8 rebounds vs. Wilmington (12/17/11)
- Matched season-high/career-high with 5 assists at Lycoming (1/3/12)
Matt Kiger - Jr., F, Williamstown, W.Va./Williamstown
- Averaging 4.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg
- Leads the team in field goal percentage (.627)
- Has started 10 games this season
- Season-high 11 points three times, most recently vs. Muskingum (12/21/11)
- Season-high 6 rebounds at Waynesburg (11/26/11) and vs. Muskingum (12/21/11)
- Career-high 20 points at Otterbein (12/4/10) and vs. Waynesburg (12/30/10)
- Career-high 9 rebounds vs. Waynesburg (12/30/10)
Justen Little - Jr., G, Galion/Galion
- Fourth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.9)
- Ranks second in the conference in assists (3.5)
- Season-high/career-high 10 points vs. Heidelberg (1/14/12)
- Season-high/career-high 7 rebounds at Ohio Northern (1/7/12)
- Season-high/career-high 7 assists vs. Otterbein (12/3/11) and vs. Wilmington (12/17/11)
Clayton Patton - Fr., G, Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley
- Averaging 3.6 ppg
- Scored 10 points at Lycoming (1/3/12), reaching double-figures for the second time this season
- Made first career start vs. Muskingum (12/21/11)
- Season-high/career -high 11 points at Capital (12/10/11)
Matt Piloto - Jr., F, Rotonda West, Fla./Lemon Bay
- Averaging 2.0 ppg and 3.3 rpg in seven games off the bench
- Played quarterback for the Mount Union football team, leading them to a seventh consecutive Stagg Bowl appearance
Colton Troyer - Jr., F, Millersburg/Berlin Hiland
- Averaging 5.5 mpg in 11 games off the bench
- Transferred from Hesston College (Kan.)
Matt Wier - Sr., F, New Castle, Pa./Mohawk
- Averaging 4.9 ppg and 3.5 rpg
- Season-high 19 points vs. Hiram (11/15/11)
- Career-high 28 points vs. Ohio Northern (12/12/09)
- Career-high 9 rebounds at Hiram (11/15/10), vs. Waynesburg (12/30/10), and vs. Hiram (11/15/11)
- Played one season on a baseball scholarship at West Virginia
Keith Williams - Jr., G, Louisville, Ky./Brown
- Averaging 3.6 ppg off the bench
- Season-high/career -high 15 points on Saturday at Wilmington (2/4/12)
- Season-high/career -high 4 steals and 3 assists in season-debut vs. Westminster (11/22/11)
Jimmy Wood - Sr., F, Wintersville/Indian Creek
- Leads the conference in scoring (17.9) and three-pointers (51)
- Leads the team in rebounding (5.4)
- Has scored 20+ points seven times this season
- Ranks 16th on school's all-time scoring list with 1,196 career points
- Scored 1,000th career point on three-pointer to go ahead by 2 points with less than a minute remaining in regulation vs. Wilmington (12/17/11)
- Recorded third career double-double with 29 points and career-high 16 rebounds vs. Immaculata (1/22/12)
- Set Louis Fleming Basinger Memorial Tournament scoring record with 29 points against Immaculata (1/22/12) and was named to the all-tournament team
- Season-high/career -high 32 points vs. Wilmington (12/17/11)
- Season-high/career -high 16 rebounds vs. Immaculata (1/22/12)
- Father, Jim, played basketball at Georgia Tech