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No. 10 Women's Basketball Stifles Marietta, to Appear in First OAC Championship Game Since 2016

Senior guard Kasey Hughes (photo courtesy of Ryan Clemens)
Senior guard Kasey Hughes (photo courtesy of Ryan Clemens)

BEREA, Ohio – The No. 10 nationally-ranked and top-seeded Baldwin Wallace University women's basketball team advanced to the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Game, as it defeated fourth-seeded Marietta College by a final score of 72-41 in Ursprung Gymnasium.

With the win, BW (25-2) advanced to the OAC Tournament Championship Game for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The Yellow Jackets will have an opportunity to win its first tournament title since 2014-15. In its championship matchup, BW will take on No. 25 nationally-ranked, and second-seeded crosstown rival John Carroll University, as the Blue Streaks won their semifinal contest against third-seeded Ohio Northern University in this evening's league action. The Yellow Jackets' lone blemish on its otherwise perfect 2019-20 OAC slate came at the hands of John Carroll in University Heights on January 22, as the two rivals split their season series with one win apiece.

BW secured a three-game season sweep against Marietta (14-13), improving its all-time record against the Pioneers to 56-19. The Yellow Jackets extended their season-long win streak to 11 games, and remained perfect at home with a 14-0 mark on the year. The victory also highlighted BW's 25th of the year; its first 25-win campaign since the 2007-08 season.

The Yellow Jackets offense was led by three scorers in double-figures. Senior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC guard Kasey Hughes (Springboro) scored a game-high 17 points, to go along with three assists and a career-high-tying five made three pointers. Senior Academic All-OAC guard/forward Kara Marshall (Copley/Akron Archbishop Hoban) poured in 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and one steal, and was perfect from the field going 5-5. Meanwhile, junior guard Gabby Garrett (Columbus/Bishop Watterson) notched 11 points and three rebounds worth of bench productivity in the victory.

The Marietta attack was spearheaded by senior forward Marlo Taylor, who was the lone scorer in double-figures for the Pioneers. She garnered a team-high 12 points, in addition to two blocks and one steal in the defeat.

Hughes set the tone early for BW, erupting for eight of the Yellow Jackets' first 10 points of the game. Her strong start fueled a 14-4 run for BW from tip-off. Hughes' 11 points overall in the opening period also helped propel a double-digit Yellow Jackets lead at the quarter's conclusion.

Defense and cold-shooting was the theme of the second period, as both teams failed to score double-figures and combined for a total 15 points in the quarter. The two adversaries also combined to shoot a mere 21.7 percent (5-23). With limited offensive action, BW was able to carry over its double-digit lead of 13 headed to the break.

With their season on the line, Marietta urgently began cutting into BW's lead, scoring eight of the second half's first 10 points to cut the deficit to seven. Sensing a looming Pioneers squad, the Yellow Jackets stepped up their defense, limiting Marietta to just three points in the last 8:30 of the third quarter, and outscoring the Pioneers 15-3 during that span.

BW's momentum from the third quarter spilled into the fourth, as their run ballooned to 25-5 overall at the 7:15 mark of the frame. The Yellow Jackets' dominant play was emphasized further as Marshall put a Marietta defender on skates with some shifty ball-handling before cruising to an easy layup with 5:47 to go. Boasting a 28-point lead at that point, BW was able to exchange baskets with their opponent for the remainder of the night, thus confirming their advancement to the OAC title game.

The Yellow Jackets return to the court on Saturday, February 29, when they host the OAC Tournament Championship Game against John Carroll in Ursprung Gymnasium at 3:00 p.m.