"It's a painful loss for sure"
February 21, 2013
Brandon Candella, along with four other seniors, played their final collegiate game Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marietta Sports Information)
MARIETTA, OH – With a chance to clinch its second berth in the Ohio Athletic Conference championship game in four seasons, the Wilmington College men’s basketball couldn’t seal the deal at the free throw line.
The Fightin’ Quakers missed three free throws in the final 17 seconds of the second overtime and had its five-point lead evaporate into the thin air, and eventually fell to Marietta in three overtimes, 111-106, at Ban Johnson Arena in the semifinals of the OAC tournament. It was just the third time this season, and the first since December, Wilmington lost when leading at halftime.
“It’s a very tough loss,” said head coach K.C. Hunt. “We competed like crazy and I am proud of our effort. To have it taken from us at the end of regulation, and for us not to get it done from the foul line; it’s a painful loss for sure.”
Wilmington shot just 60 percent (21-of-35) from the charity stripe, including 8-of-14 in the first two overtime sessions. Ironically, it was a missed free throw that enabled the Quakers to take the game into overtime. Marietta had a chance to win the game with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, but missed the second of two free throws.
It was two free throws that the Quakers thought shouldn’t have been awarded. Needing to go the length of the court, Marietta had its pass intercepted – or so Wilmington thought. A foul was called although the WC player had possession of the ball.
Both teams took five-point leads in the extra sessions, Marietta in the first overtime and Wilmington in the second. The Quakers battled back to score eight straight points to take a three-point lead in the initial extra period, but Marietta drilled a three with four seconds remaining to send it to the second overtime.
The Fightin’ Quakers five-point lead came following three straight free throws by junior Jordan Berlin (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) 1:15 left in the second overtime. However, leading scorer Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) went to the bench with seconds remaining. After Wilmington split two free throws with nine seconds remaining, the Pioneers drilled their second buzzer-beating three-pointer of the night, sending the game to a third overtime.
Marietta started the final extra period with a three-pointer and never trailed in the final five minutes. This time a team made the free throws as the Pioneers hit seven straight to escape with the win.
With a 17-3 run to start the second half, MC took a five-point lead and had its lead grow to seven midway through the second half. The Pioneers led by four with 2:50 in the second half before Wilmington fought back.
Senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West) gave WC a lead with 1:05 left, and then Heard reclaimed the one-point bulge with 33 seconds left. After getting a defensive stop, the FIghtin’ Quakers missed the front end of the one-and-one to keep Marietta alive.
Heard finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Candella added 22 points and nine rebounds. Senior Miles Bankston (Cincinnati, OH/Walnut Hills) chipped in with 12 points and 10 boards.
Wilmington finished the season 14-13 on the season, and it marked the end of the careers for Candella, Bankston, Tim Pfeiffer (Clinton, OH/Akron Manchester), Ethan Fite (Hamersville, OH/Western Brown) and Taylor Kin (Sandusky, OH/Riverdale).
“It was a tough way to end the careers of five high character people,” said Hunt. “I learned as much from them as they learned from me.”